Syrian ambassador: UN resolution addresses most regime concerns

Bashar Ja’afari says countries supporting rebels must abide by decision which also calls for roadmap for political transition

Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari, right, listens to speakers during a meeting of the UN General Assembly at the United Nations, in August. (photo credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari, right, listens to speakers during a meeting of the UN General Assembly at the United Nations, in August. (photo credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The UN Security Council vote Friday to secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile addressed most of the Syrian regime’s concerns, Syrian ambassador to the UN Bashar Ja’afari said Saturday.

Ja’afari described the resolution, which also called for a roadmap to political transition, as a “positive endeavor,” but warned that “some delegations are already beginning to provide a self-inflicted negative interpretation in order to derail it from its lofty purposes.”

He called on those countries supporting the rebels — Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France and the US — to abide by the resolution, ahead of a planned US-Russia-led peace summit in Geneva.

“If you want to go to Geneva II, those who sponsor the terrorist groups, those who are spending billions of dollars on the terrorist groups should refrain from doing so, so that everybody will go with this diplomatic … spirit,” Ja’afari said.

“You cannot continue sending weapons, and collecting terrorists from all over world and sending them to Syria under the name of jihad, and then pretend that you are working for peace,” he added.

“Those governments who are deeply involved in the bloodshed of the Syrian people should stop and refrain.”

The ambassador said that the Syrian regime has been ready to attend the peace summit in Geneva for some time.

“The Syrian delegation a year ago gave the Russians the name of the delegation and the composition of the delegation,” he was quoted as telling reporters.

On Friday, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, a landmark decision aimed at taking poison gas off the battlefield in the escalating 2 1/2-year conflict.

The vote after two weeks of intense negotiations marked a major breakthrough in the paralysis that has gripped the council since the Syrian uprising began. Russia and China previously vetoed three Western-backed resolutions pressuring President Bashar Assad’s regime to end the violence.

“Today’s historic resolution is the first hopeful news on Syria in a long time,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the council immediately after the vote, but he and others stressed that much more needs to be done to stop the fighting that has left more 100,000 dead.

As a sign of the broad support for the resolution, all 15 council members signed on as co-sponsors.

For the first time, the council also endorsed the roadmap for a political transition in Syria adopted by key nations in June 2012 and called for an international conference to be convened “as soon as possible” to implement it.

Ban said the target date for a new peace conference in Geneva is mid-November.

The resolution authorized the UN to send an advance team to assist the OPCW’s activities in Syria. It asks Ban to submit recommendations to the Security Council within 10 days of the resolution’s adoption on the UN role in eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons program.

The resolution requires the council to review compliance with the OPCW’s plans within 30 days, and every month after that.

In an indication of the enormity of the task ahead, the OPCW appealed for donations to fund the disarmament, saying it will have to hire new weapons inspectors and chemical experts.

Meanwhile, a group of UN inspectors already in Syria investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons said Friday they are probing a total of seven suspected attacks, including in the Damascus suburb where hundreds were killed last month. That number was raised from three sites previously.

The OPCW destruction plan calls on Syria to give inspectors unfettered access to any site suspected of chemical weapons involvement, even if Syria’s government did not identify the location. That gives the inspectors unusually broad authority.

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