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France, UK and US seek 'robust' Syria resolution

The three permanent UN Security Council members most critical of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad say they want a "strong and robust" resolution to follow up and enforce a chemical weapons deal brokered with Russia.

The French presidency said on Monday that the top diplomats of France, Britain and the US, meeting in Paris, had agreed that the UN Security Council should pass a resolution pressuring Syria to abide by the deal to hand over its chemical weapons for disposal.

Under the prior deal, suggested by Russia and sealed in Geneva on Saturday, Syria's government would agree to surrender its chemical weapons.

The US, France and Britain, "judged it essential" that the UN draft a "strong, robust" text on the matter which also "set a precise timetable." French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and his US counterpart John Kerry both said that a resolution would be backed up by Chapter 7 of the UN Security Council.

This chapter allows, in case of non-compliance, for either economic and diplomatic retaliation, or "air, sea, or land forces" if other measures "would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate."

"If [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad fails in time to abide by the terms of this framework, make no mistake, we are all agreed – and that includes Russia – that there will be consequences," US Secretary of State John Kerry said at a press conference with Fabius and British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Russia has acted as the Syrian regime's closest ally during the country's protracted civil war. France, Britain and the US, meanwhile, have all been among the more vocal supporters of the opposition.

Prior to the chemical weapons agreement last week, the US and France were threatening military action against Assad – while British Prime Minister David Cameron failed to secure a British parliamentary authorization for military intervention.

The three foreign ministers met with President Francois Hollande (pictured above in center) prior to their joint appearance.

Russia critical

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who reached the Geneva deal during three days of talks with Kerry, told journalists in Moscow that a strongly-worded resolution ran the risk of derailing further peace efforts.

"If for someone it is more important to constantly threaten ... that is another path to completely wrecking the chances of calling the Geneva 2 conference," Lavrov said, in reference to longstanding hopes of getting all the major Syrian and international players into one room for peace negotiations.

Lavrov said that despite Monday's announcements in Paris, Russia was "convinced that ... the American side will firmly adhere, as a normal negotiating partner, to what was reached" during the talks that led to Saturday's chemical weapons framework.

Merkel sees 'hope' in Geneva deal

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the Geneva deal with Syria as something that opened up "a window of hope," her spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin on Monday.

Later on Monday, the United Nations was scheduled to publish the findings of the chemical weapons inspection team that scoured the site of an attack near Damascus on August 21. The US has said that the attack killed more than 1,400 people and attributed the blame to the Assad regime.

The UN's inspection team was not authorized to identify culpability, so its findings will focus only on the question of whether chemical weapons were deployed - not who fired them.

Australia's ambassador to the UN and current Security Council President Gary Quinlan said on Twitter that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would personally brief the Security Council on the report later on Monday.

msh/ipj (AFP, dpa, Reuters)