Anti-war demonstrators protest against US intervention in Syria in front of the White House in Washington yesterday before US President Brack Obama addresses the nation on Syria
WASHINGTON/AMMAN: Syria accepted a Russian proposal yesterday to give up chemical weapons and win a reprieve from US military strikes, and major western powers began working on a United Nations resolution to create a timetable and process for ensuring it happens.
Syrian Prime Minister Wael Al Halki accepted the Russian proposal “to spare Syrian blood,” state television reported.
The United States and its allies remained sceptical and President Barack Obama sought to keep the pressure on Syria by maintaining his drive for congressional backing for a possible military strike while exploring a diplomatic alternative.
Amid the whirlwind of diplomatic activity focused on the response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on a Damascus neighbourhood on August 21, the civil war resumed in earnest, President Bashar Al Assad’s jets again bombing rebel positions in the capital. France wants a binding UN Security Council resolution that would provide a framework for controlling and eliminating the weapons.
Britain and the United States said they would work on quickly formulating a resolution.
The UN Security Council initially called a closed door meeting asked for by Russia to discuss its proposal to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control, but the meeting was later cancelled at Russia’s request.
Moscow appeared strongly opposed to the continuation of any military threats to Damascus, as advocated by Washington.
RIYADH: Gulf states said yesterday that a Russian proposal to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control with the aim of averting a US strike would not end the bloodshed in Syria.
The Gulf Cooperation Council is a main backer of rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.
“We’ve heard of the initiative,” Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al Khalifa told a news conference after a meeting of the GCC, in the Gulf Arabs’ first response.
“It’s all about chemical weapons, but doesn’t stop the spilling of the blood of the Syrian people.”
In an address at the start of the meeting, Khalifa called for “appropriate deterrent measures against those who committed this crime” and said the chemical attack required “the United Nations and the international community, represented by the Security Council, to shoulder its responsibility”.