Men inspect the site of a car bomb attack that targeted the main entrance to Syria’s rebel-held Bab Al Hawa border crossing, injuring 12 people.
NEW YORK: Diplomats from the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China launched negotiations yesterday on a Western-drafted resolution that would demand the destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal in line with a US-Russian deal agreed last weekend.
Nearly an hour of initial talks ended with an agreement to meet again today, diplomats said.
Yesterday’s meeting came a day after UN investigators confirmed the use of sarin nerve agent in an August 21 poison gas attack outside the Syrian capital. The United States, Britain and France said the long-awaited UN report proved beyond any doubt that Syrian government forces were responsible.
Erin Pelton, spokeswoman for the US mission to the United Nations, said the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — known as the P5 — were discussing a joint US-British-French draft but declined to comment at length.
“In order to respect the integrity of these negotiations, we will not be reading out the details of today’s meeting or the draft resolution,” she said. Britain’s UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told Reuters that the five would hold further consultations soon.
“The P5 had a discussion of the text but we will be meeting again,” he said after the meeting at the US mission ended. “Obviously everyone has to put it back to their capitals and then we’ll have a further discussion tomorrow.”
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin also declined to comment in detail, saying “I don’t have any initial reaction” to the Western draft resolution.
“We’re doing a very important thing,” Churkin told Reuters. “We originated a very important proposal and we hope it’s going to be implemented without any interference.”
The resolution is intended to support a US-Russian deal agreed in Geneva on Saturday which calls for Syria to account fully for its chemical weapons within a week and for the removal and destruction of the entire arsenal by mid-2014. That deal was agreed after US President Barack Obama threatened to launch air strikes against Syria. REUTERS
KUWAIT CITY: Some seven million people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid due to the conflict in Syria, a top UN official said yesterday, adding $4.4bn was needed this year.
Of those in urgent need, more than two million have taken shelter outside Syria, while more than four million people have been displaced within the country, said UN Emergency Relief coordinator Valerie Amos.
“We are doing what we can but it is not enough,” she told a conference in Kuwait, adding that UN agencies have 1,000 staff on the ground, mostly Syrians.
She highlighted a wide hole in the funds available for humanitarian aid to the victims of the Syrian conflict.
“We need a total of $4.4bn for Syria and neighbouring countries just for this year. So far we have raised $1.84bn of that,” said.
“The challenge we face is that the increased financial requirements for Syria could imply diverting funds from other very serious crises around the world,” she said.
A meeting will be held on the sidelines of next week’s UN General Assembly to discuss ways of helping Lebanon cope with the Syrian refugee influx, a government official said yesterday.
The Lebanese official said “there will be a meeting in New York on September 25 of the International Group to Support Lebanon at France’s initiative.”
The meeting will include the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and be attended by Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, the source said.
“The group will examine ways to help Lebanon maintain political stability and security... and help the country bear the burden of a continuous flow of Syrian refugees,” the source
The UN refugee agency UNHCR has registered more than 746,000 Syrians in Lebanon, though many others remain unregistered.
The Lebanese government puts the number of Syrians in the country at 1.3 million, though that figure includes Syrians who were already in the country when the conflict began 30 months ago.
The crisis in Syria has placed enormous strain on Lebanon, politically and economically.
The small country, with a population of just four million, has struggled to absorb ever-growing numbers of refugees, who have placed additional burdens on already scare resources.
In Syria, loyalist troops seized control of parts of a town located on the strategic road linking Damascus to the international airport, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.