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Security Council members close in on Syrian chemical weapons deal

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council appear to be edging towards a deal that would see Syria hand over its chemical weapons. They have been struggling to reach a common position for more than a month.

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Syria resolution edging closer

News agencies on Thursday quoted diplomatic sources who said that the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China appeared to have reached agreement on how to deal with the chemical weapons' arsenal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

However, the details of the wording of a Security Council resolution and how any measures it called for would be enforced still had to be worked out.

Assad, meanwhile, reiterated his commitment to a deal that would see him turn over his chemical weapons and thereby avoid threatened military action against his regime by the US and France.

Assad told Venezuelan broadcaster Telesur on Wednesday that from his point of view there were "no obstacles" to a deal.

Meanwhile, Russia, which along with China had blocked previous Security Council resolutions on Syria, has offered to join international efforts to secure the chemical weapons, once Damascus has handed them over.

"When the process of eliminating the chemical weapons reaches its active phase, it will be necessary to provide for the safety of the sites where they will be destroyed," Russian news agencies quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying. "The Russian side is ready to help guard these sites," he added.

Beijing too appeared to be on board.

"On Syria, both ministers were in strong agreement on the need for a mandatory and binding U.N. Security Council resolution," an unnamed US official told the Reuters news agency after US Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday.

Washington has blamed Assad's regime for an attack using sarin gas on civilians in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21, which the US officials say killed more than 1,400 people. Assad and Russia have blamed the attack on Syrian rebels.

pfd/dr (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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