The U.N. Security Council is set to pass a resolution on Friday to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons after Russia and the United States agreed a deal to avert U.S. military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he hopes a date will also be agreed on Friday for so-called Geneva 2 peace talks on Syria, according to Reuters.
“I hope we will be able to set a date so that Geneva 2 can finally take place because the only solution is political. We moved forward on the chemical side but people are continuing to kill each other on the ground,” Fabius told reporters.
U.S. President Barack Obama lauded the deal as “potentially a huge victory for the international community,” Associated Press reported.
The draft resolution's demands that Syria abandon its chemical stockpile and allow unfettered access to chemical weapons experts are legally binding. But if Syria fails to comply, the council will need to adopt a second resolution to impose consequences.
Obama said during an Oval Office meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that he is “very hopeful for the prospects of what can be accomplished.”
Obama argued his threat of military strikes was crucial to reaching the agreement, but he always preferred a diplomatic solution.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday accused Western nations of blaming Syria's President Bashar al-Assad of staging chemical weapons attacks without proof.
“The use of chemical weapons is inadmissible. This does not mean, however, that one can usurp the right to accuse and pass verdicts,” Lavrov told the U.N. General Assembly.
The United States, Britain and France have accused Assad's forces of carrying out an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus. Russia has sided with Assad in blaming opposition rebels.
International experts have said a U.N. report on the Aug. 21 attack, which did not attribute blame, gave clear signs that government forces carried out the attack.
However, Lavrov told the assembly: “All the incidents associated with the use of chemical weapons by whoever that might be in Syria must be investigated in a professional and unbiased manner.”
He added that the accusations should “then be examined by the U.N. Security Council exclusively on the basis of facts rather than allegations and assumptions.”
Lavrov said it was “alarming” to hear world leaders talk about “the right to use military force to ensure one's own interests in the Middle East region.”
The Russian minister did not mention the United States, but President Obama on Tuesday said he was ready to order military force in the Middle to defend U.S. “core interests.”
(With Reuters and AP)
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