Privately, UN talks begin on Syria's chemical weapons

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SummaryTense negotiations have begun on a proposed UN resolution that would put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control and end a diplomatic stalemate over a deadly August 21 poison gas attack, a French official said on Wednesday.

Tense negotiations have begun on a proposed UN resolution that would put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control and end a diplomatic stalemate over a deadly August 21 poison gas attack, a French official said on Wednesday.

The plan for Syria to turn over its chemical weapons, initiated by Russia, appeared to ease one diplomatic stalemate only to open up new potential for impasse as Moscow rejected US and French demands for a binding UN resolution with “very severe consequences’’ for non-compliance.

The French official close to the president, who requested anonymity, said Russia objected not only to making the resolution militarily enforceable, but also to blaming the August 21 attack on the Syrian government and demanding those responsible be taken before an international criminal court.

Wary of falling into what the French foreign minister called “a trap”, Paris and Washington are pushing for a UN Security Council resolution to verify Syria’s disarmament. Russia, a close ally of Syrian leader Bashar Assad and the regime’s chief patron on the international stage, dismissed France’s proposal on Tuesday.

The diplomatic maneuvering threatened growing momentum toward a plan that would allow US President Barack Obama to back away from military action. Support for a strike is uncertain in the United States, even as Obama seeks Congress’ backing for action — and there has been little international appetite to join forces against Assad.

Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moallem said on Tuesday that Syria would place its chemical weapons locations in the hands of representatives of Russia, other unspecified countries and the United Nations.

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