Thursday, March 02, 2017

Russia And China Veto Bid To Derail Talks
MAR 2017 Thursday 2ND
posted by James Tweedie in World

ATTEMPTS to derail the Syria peace talks through the United Nations continued yesterday, despite Russia and China vetoing a security council resolution.

The two non-Nato permanent members of the council rejected a motion by France and Britain on Tuesday to block the sale of helicopters to Syria and sanction individuals and companies over alleged chemical weapon attacks by government forces.

The motion was tabled in response to a report by the UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) that blamed Damascus for three chlorine gas attacks.

Russian deputy permanent representative at the UN Vladimir Safronkov said he “had no other choice but to block the passing of this resolution” as it would undermine the UN-brokered talks in Geneva.

Mr Safronkov said he was “sceptical” of the JIM reports and the “uncorroborated nature of the conclusions.” He added that the list of individuals and entities to be sanctioned had been “copied from the analogous American list, approved at the start of this year by the previous US administration.”

After the vote, Washington’s UN ambassador Nikki Haley said she would press EU states and other “partners” to impose sanctions anyway.

“The names of people and companies involved in [President Bashar al-] Assad’s use of chemical weapons are public — all listed in the annex of this draft resolution for everyone to see,” she said.

“The United States has already designated for sanctions every person and every entity listed in the annex.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the resolution would “undermine trust in the negotiating process.”

In Geneva yesterday, the Saudi-based High Negotiations Committee (HNC) of religious sectarian insurgent groups said its “regretted” Moscow and Beijing’s veto decision. Spokesman Salem al-Muslet said that he would call on Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov to press Mr Assad to step down.

“We will get nowhere unless there is pressure and the only country that can deliver pressure on the regime is Russia,” he said.

But Jihad al-Makdissi, head of the Cairo Platform of moderate opposition parties, said “evolution instead of revolution” was the goal.

“We say any change, any departure, should be the result of a process and not a precondition,” he said.

“We have to be realistic after six years. Rebels are not at the door of the presidential palace. Aleppo now is in the hands of the Syrian army.”

But the UN’s commission of inquiry on Syria called last year’s negotiated evacuation of insurgents from east Aleppo a “war crime”, claiming that residents who left with the defeated extremists had been given no choice.

Following the battle, the Russian Defence Ministry said mass graves of people executed by the Western-backed rebels had been uncovered, along with explosive booby traps hidden in children’s toys.

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