United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at headquarters in New York on September 16, 2013
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at headquarters in New York on September 16, 2013. © Spencer Platt - Getty Images/AFP/File
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at headquarters in New York on September 16, 2013
AFP
Last updated: September 17, 2013

UN leader to press major powers on Syria

UN leader Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday he will press the foreign ministers of the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China to take joint action on the Syria crisis at a meeting next week.

He made the announcement as UN envoys from the five permanent Security Council members failed to overcome divisions over a resolution on destroying Syria's chemical weapons.

The five major powers have been split over the Syria war ever since protests against President Bashar al-Assad started in March 2011.

Ban said attacks with banned chemical weapons, which had led to threats of a US military strike, were only the "tip of the iceberg" in the Syria crisis.

He told a press conference the Security Council had to unify and the major powers needed to take a "broader" look at the Syrian conflict and tackle the general surge in fighting as well as the mounting refugee and humanitarian strife.

The UN leader said he would meet with the foreign ministers of the five key nations in New York next week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly summit. UN officials said the meeting would be on September 25.

Ban is to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss a possible peace conference to end what he called the "worst crisis we have experienced in many, many years."

The talks with Kerry and Lavrov are expected on September 28.

The permanent Security Council members held new negotiations on a resolution to back a Russia-US accord aiming to destroy Assad's chemical weapons.

France, Britain and the United States stuck to demands for compulsory measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter if Assad does not keep to the disarmament plan, diplomats said.

Russia maintained its opposition to any suggestion of force, they added.

A French draft being discussed seeks Chapter VII measures that could be limited to economic sanctions or allow force. The draft also calls for the Syria chemical weapons attacks to be referred to the International Criminal Court.

Russia and China have vetoed three western resolutions in the past 30 months which sought to increase pressure on Assad without imposing sanctions.

Lavrov said when agreeing the disarmament plan with Kerry in Geneva on Saturday that there would be a UN resolution with Chapter VII measures but no threat of force.

The Russian foreign minister said Tuesday, however, that his country would not allow any action under Chapter VII.

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