Wednesday, August 28, 2013

UK drafts UN resolution on Syria as Ban seeks time - BusinessDay

The U.K. drafted a United Nations resolution to condemn last week's suspected chemical attacks in Syria and authorise action to protect civilians, as the head of the UN said its inspectors need time to establish the facts.

The resolution will allow the use of "all necessary measures under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter to protect civilians from chemical weapons," Prime Minister David Cameron's office said in an e-mailed statement. The draft resolution will be discussed with the other four permanent UN Security Council members — the U.S., Russia, China and France — in New York later Wednesday, Bloomberg reports.

UN chemical inspectors entered the site of the alleged attacks in the Ghouta area near Damascus, Al Arabiya television reported Wednesday. The team was unable to gain access to the site yesterday. "The team needs time to do its job," UN

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at a conference in The Hague today. "It is essential to establish the facts."

U.S. and British officials have said there's little doubt that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces are responsible for the chemical attacks that opposition groups say killed more than 1,300 people. Any retaliatory strikes on the Middle Eastern nation won't be aimed at toppling Assad, the officials have said. Assad and his government have denied they used chemical weapons.

Saudi Appeal

The incident has fueled calls for deeper global involvement in the 2 1/2-year Syrian civil war, with Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal calling for a "decisive and serious international stance," the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported Wednesday.

As part of the buildup, U.S. President Barack Obama plans to release an intelligence assessment of the Aug. 21 attack in Ghouta, and his administration has begun consultations with U.S. congressional leaders.

Cameron discussed the "serious response" with Obama last night, adding that it will be "specific to the chemical-weapons attack," according to an e-mailed statement from his office. Cameron summoned Parliament back from its summer recess to debate the matter Thursday. French President Francois Hollande also recalled Parliament to meet Sept. 4, the government announced Wednesday.

"The Americans, the British and others say that they know that chemical weapons have been used; what we have been told is that this evidence is going to be shared with us," Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN and Arab League special envoy to Syria, told a news conference in Geneva. "It hasn't been until now, and we will be very interested to hear what this evidence is."
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