Britain, France, US to offer UN resolution motion on Syria

MOSCOW (AFP) - Britain, France and the United States will introduce a United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria's chemical weapons on Tuesday, which includes a "proper timetable" for the Assad regime to hand over its chemical weapons, British Prime Minister David Cameron said.

"Britain and France and America will be tabling a UN Security Council resolution today," Mr Cameron told British lawmakers as officials from the three countries met at the UN headquarters in New York.

Asked when the resolution should be introduced, Mr Cameron told lawmakers: "I think that should happen today.

"I think we do need some deadlines, we do need some timetables. So I think in any Security Council resolution that we draft - and Britain, France and America are discussing this right now - we need to be clear there do need to be some thresholds," he said.

"This is not about... monitoring chemical weapons in Syria. It's got to be about handing them over to international control and their destruction."

The Prime Minister told British lawmakers the Russian proposals must be treated seriously, but also "tested out properly" to ensure they were not a "ruse".

He said a Security Council resolution "seems to me a good way of testing out the seriousness of a Russian offer and the seriousness of any Syrian response".

Mr Cameron admitted that "things have moved faster than perhaps was anticipated".

But he said the Russian response to US Secretary of State John Kerry's statement that Syria could avert US-led military action if it handed over its chemical arsenal to international control was "interesting".

"If they really mean this, let's test this out, let's see if this can be a way forward," he said.

"If we can achieve the removal and the destruction of the biggest chemical weapons arsenal in the world, that would be a significant step forward. So it's definitely worth exploring but we must be sceptical, we must be careful."

The Russian proposal urges Damascus to "place chemical weapons under international control and then to have them destroyed".

Russia hopes Syria can avert threatened military strikes by the United States as retribution for a chemical attack outside Damascus on August 21 which the West believes was carried out by the regime.

Speaking earlier in South Africa, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said any UN Security Council resolution must contain the threat of force.

"It certainly would need to be a Chapter Seven resolution to have any meaning and credibility on this subject," Mr Hague said in Cape Town, referring to rules authorising the Security Council to enforce a resolution with military action if necessary.

The resolution would demand full disclosure by the Assad regime of the scale of its chemical weapons, and that the arsenal be placed immediately under international control and then dismantled.

Mr Hague said the world should remember "that it was only yesterday that Assad was denying the very existence of chemical weapons stocks" and that the Assad regime "has consistently failed to match its promises with actions".

But Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared on Tuesday that any resolution under Chapter Seven would be "unacceptable".

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday the United States should renounce the option of using force in Syria to allow checks on Damascus' chemical weapons to go ahead.

"It all makes sense and can work if the US side and all those who support it renounce the use of force," he said, according to Russian television.