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Wednesday 17 September 2014

UN council discusses Syria motion

Published 17/09/2013 | 09:16

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Foreign Secretary William Hague insisted British troops will not be sent to Syria

The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have met in New York to discuss the agreement between the United States and Russia on Syria's chemical weapons, it is understood.

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Representatives from the UK, US, China, France and Russia attended a meeting geared towards getting a Security Council resolution enshrining the Syrian regime's responsibility to hand over its chemical weapons stocks drawn up over the weekend.

Under the US-Russia agreement, Syrian president Bashar Assad's regime is required to submit a full inventory of its chemical stockpile by the end of the week, allow international inspectors into the country by November and complete the surrender of its arsenal by mid-2014.

Earlier Foreign Secretary William Hague said he hoped a UN resolution could be completed over the weekend but even if it was not, it was a matter of "days not weeks".

Mr Hague suggested Britain could send experts to assist international efforts to rid the Assad regime of chemical weapons but ruled out sending troops.

He said Britain's involvement would depend on arrangements made by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the terms of the Security Council resolution as the Syrian regime previously refused access for inspectors from the UK and US.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We will not be sending British troops into Syria. Not for these or any other circumstances. We won't be sending boots on the ground, deploying boots on the ground in Syria.

"I don't think that would be a good way to provide security inside Syria, given that might create strong feelings within Syria, so that would have to be provided in a different way."

On the issue of sending British experts, Mr Hague said: "Well, we're open to that. We would want to be confident about their security. I think all countries that have expertise in this area should be ready to use it, to deploy it as part of an international team."

He added: "We'd be willing to do so (send experts)."

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