The United States and Russia have reached an agreement on a UN resolution aimed at destroying Syria's chemical weapons arsenal. Diplomats said the resolution will go to the full Security Council in the coming hours.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed Thursday that after weeks of negotiations a deal had been struck with the United States on a resolution regarding Syria's chemical weapons stockpile.
"We reached an understanding with the United States on a draft resolution," Lavrov told reporters at the Security Council.
He gave no details on the contents of the draft agreement.
The full 15-member Security Council was called to a meeting late Thursday evening to discuss the text. No date for a vote has been officially set, however, a senior US official said the UN Security Council could vote on the draft resolution as early as Friday evening.
The resolution has the potential to become the first to be passed by the Security Council since the Syrian conflict erupted in March 2011. Russia and China have blocked three previous western-backed resolutions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Thursday's resolution was penned on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New Ýork following two weeks of tense negotiations prompted by a US-Russian agreement to seize and destroy Syrian chemical weapons struck earlier this month.
That deal averted US military strikes on Syria which were threatened after the US said it had evidence the Syrian regime was behind a chemical attack in a Damascus suburb in August which left more than 1,400 people dead. Russia, a key ally of Assad, maintains that opposition rebels carried out the attack.
One key sticking point was over a demand from the US, Britain and France that the resolution invoke Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. It would permit the Security Council's use of sanctions or military force should the resolution's terms be ignored. Russia, however, had steadfastly refused to support those terms.
According to a copy of the draft resolution seen by news agency Reuters, western powers on the Security Council appear to have backed away from many of their initial demands.
While the measure is legally binding, it provides no means of automatic enforcement with sanctions or military force. Should Syria fail to comply with the resolution, the council would impose punitive measures under Chapter 7, it states, however they would require a second resolution which Russia could veto.
ccp/lw (AFP, Reuters)