Syria

Private UN Negotiations Begin over Syrian Chemical Weapons

Plan to get country to give them up

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Tense negotiations have begun on a proposed UN resolution that would put Syria's chemical weapons under international control and end a diplomatic stalemate over a deadly suspected poison gas attack, a French official said Wednesday.

The plan for Syria to relinquish its chemical weapons, initiated by Russia, appeared to ease the crisis over looming Western strikes against President Bashar Assad's regime in Damascus, only to open up new potential for impasse as Moscow rejected US and French demands for a binding UN resolution with "very severe consequences" for non-compliance.

In Damascus, a senior government official said the Russian proposal is still a "broad headline" that needs to be developed. He added that Syria was ready to sign the chemical weapons convention but not if such a move is imposed by foreign powers.