UN leader presses major powers over Syria deadlock

AFP , Wednesday 25 Sep 2013

UN chief Ban Ki-moon urges UN foreign ministers to reach consensus on 30-month-old conflict in Syria

UN leader Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday pressed the major powers to overcome differences on the Syria war amid troubled talks on a UN Security Council resolution on Syria's chemical arms.

Ban hosted a lunch with the foreign ministers of the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France -- the permanent Security Council members -- to put across his message, UN officials said.

Ban has said the Security Council -- divided into opponents and backers of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad -- has been gripped by an "embarrassing paralysis" over the 30-month-old conflict.

Ban has called on the Security Council to take action over the use of chemical weapons in the war and to press for a Geneva peace conference.

The meeting was held as Russia and the United States negotiate a Security Council resolution to make a plan they have devised to destroy Assad's chemical weapons binding under international law.

Western nations want the resolution to threaten the possibility of sanctions if Assad fails to keep the plan. Russia, Assad's key ally, has resisted any attempt to threaten any kind of action against Assad.

Russia and China have vetoed three resolutions seeking to increase pressure on Assad in the past 18 months.

US officials say progress has been made on a resolution but days more of talks will be needed before a vote can be held.

The United States accuses Assad's forces of staging an 21 August  sarin gas attack near Damascus. It says that more than 1,400 people were killed.

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