Russia has told France it cannot back a draft UN resolution authorizing the use of force if Syria does not give up chemical weapons.
According to media reports on Wednesday, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said in a statement: "France’s proposal to accept a Security Council resolution … blaming the Syrian authorities for the possible use of chemical weapons is inadmissible.”
The statement was made after Lavrov spoke with his French counterpart by phone on Tuesday.
The draft French text, seen by Reuters, "condemns the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian authorities on 21 August 2013" - an allegation denied by the Syrian government.
It calls on Syria to give the UN, in 15 days' time, details of all its chemical weapons facilities, and, later down the line, to "unconditionally destruct, remove or render harmless, under international supervision" its chemical arsenal.
It also says that "in the event of non-compliance," the UN will "adopt further necessary measures under Chapter VII," referring to part of the UN charter which authorizes military action.
The French paper comes after Russia and Syria on Monday offered to give up Syria's chemical arsenal in order to stop US-led military strikes.
The general idea was endorsed by the EU and by the Arab League on Tuesday.
However, Lavrov's rejection of the French text does not mean the idea is defunct.
Russia is insisting that the U.S. remove the threat of military force as a precursor to the deal. Obama has said it's necessary to keep that threat on the table to secure a meaningful deal.
According to Washington Post, Russian President Vladmir Putin said a weapons deal would work only if the United States and others “tell us they’re giving up their plan to use force against Syria.”
U.S. secretary of state John Kerry is to meet with the Russian foreign minister on Thursday to see how Russia is prepared to guarantee the offer.
U.S. President Barack Obama in a TV speech on Tuesday said he is postponing a Congress vote on military intervention because "this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force."
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