US and Russia agree on Syria chemicals weapons draft

The United States and Russia have reached agreement on a draft UN resolution aimed at identifying those behind chemical weapons attacks in Syria in order to bring them to justice, a US official said on Thursday.

The United Nations Security Council is likely to vote on Friday on a US proposal to ask UN chief Ban Ki-moon and the global chemical weapons watchdog to assemble a team of investigators to lay blame for toxic gas attacks in Syria, diplomats said.

Attributing responsibility for chemical weapons attacks would pave the way for action by the 15-member Security Council.

The body has already threatened consequences for such attacks, which could include sanctions.

A US official, who did not want to be identified, said an agreement had been reached on the draft between the United States and Russia.

Officials say the agreement was finalised during talks in Malaysia on Wednesday between US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

Russia – which has veto power on the UN council – is a Syrian ally and has protected President Bashar al-Assad’s government from any UN action during the four-year civil war. The United States began discussing the draft resolution with Russia several months ago.

Several diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that if no objections to the draft were raised by any council members by Thursday morning, then a vote would likely be scheduled for Friday.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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