Western envoys tout deal on core of UN Syria draft, Russia denies accord
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Envoys from the United States, Russia, France, China and Britain have come to an agreement on the core of a UN Security Council resolution to get rid of Syria's chemical weapons, three Western diplomats said on Wednesday, but Russia denied such an accord had been reached and insisted work was 'still going on.'
Diplomats from the five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council have been haggling over the details of a resolution to back an accord hammered out by Russia and the United States on September 14 in Geneva to eliminate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons arsenal.
Wednesday's development came after the foreign ministers of the five council powers met over lunch with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Several envoys said a draft resolution could be presented to the full 15-nation council soon, and the five permanent members would also meet on Friday to discuss a proposed Syria peace conference in Geneva.
"We have a few details to solve. But I think we shall reach a common resolution maybe today or tomorrow," said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
A Western diplomatic source said, "It seems that things are moving forward," adding that there was "an agreement among the five on the core."
"We are closer on all the key points," he said. A third diplomat also suggested a deal on the draft resolution was within reach.
However, Russia rejected the Western diplomats' suggestions that there was an agreement on the core of a draft resolution.
"This is just their wishful thinking," said the spokesman for Russia's UN delegation. "It is not the reality. The work on the draft resolution is still going on."
A US official cited progress while cautioning that there was still work to be done. "We're making progress but we're not done yet," the official told Reuters.