The five permanent members of the divided UN Security Council have reached agreement on key elements of a resolution to require Syria to dismantle its chemical weapons stockpiles, U.N. diplomats said Thursday.
The diplomats said Russia and the United States were still negotiating on a handful of unresolved issues, reportedly including details on how the chemical weapons will be destroyed, but Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov offered to provide troops to guard facilities where Syria’s chemical weapons would be destroyed.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met briefly in what was called a last-minute scheduled, closed-door meeting on Thursday afternoon at the United Nations. The U.N. diplomats’ comments came a day after Russia’s deputy foreign minister said negotiators had agreed the major hurdle regarding the use of force, and decided that the resolution would include a reference to Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which allows for military and nonmilitary actions to promote peace and security.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters Thursday that a few items needed to be worked out in the draft resolution, but he expressed optimism saying, “things have advanced.”
Fabius said Wednesday he thought the five veto-holders — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — known as the P-5, would agree on language on Thursday or Friday, a optimistic prediction further advanced by Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov.
Gatilov had told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the resolution will not include an automatic trigger for measures under Chapter 7, which means the council would have to follow up with another resolution if Syria fails to comply.
Fabius made clear Thursday that the P-5 had reached agreement on three difficult issues that France pushed for:
- The inclusion of a sentence saying the use of chemical weapons in Syria and anywhere else is a crime;
- The inclusion of a reference to Chapter 7 that contains the same wording as in the U.S.-Russia agreement reached in Geneva;
- The inclusion of a statement saying those responsible for using chemical weapons must be held accountable.
In their typical paralytic fashion, the work will go on to construct a more clear language relating to Chapter 7. While work on the resolution continues, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – the body that will be in charge of securing and destroying the chemical weapons stockpile – is working on its own document to set out its exact duties. The U.N. resolution will include the text of the OPCW’s declaration and make it legally binding — so the OPCW must act first.