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UK to table Syria resolution at UN
Britain, France and the US are to table a resolution at the United Nations Security Council to "test" Russian proposals for Syrian president Bashar Assad to hand over his chemical weapons arsenal to international control, David Cameron has announced.
The UK has given a cautious welcome to the proposal put forward by Russia yesterday, but the Prime Minister has warned that the plan must not be a "distraction" from ensuring that action is taking in response to the use of nerve gas against civilians in Damascus on August 21.
He today spoke by phone with US president Barack Obama, who is seeking Congressional approval for punitive US military action against the Assad regime. Mr Obama also spoke to French president Francois Hollande.
Shortly after the phone call, Mr Cameron told a panel of senior MPs at the House of Commons Liaison Committee that the Russian plan was "an interesting proposal", adding: "If it is a serious one, then it is one we should take very seriously, because it could achieve a major goal we have as a Government - to get rid of chemical weapons."
Announcing the plans for the UN resolution, Mr Cameron said: "It is important to make sure that this isn't some delaying tactic, that this isn't some ruse.
"In the resolution, I think it's quite important that we have some clarity about thresholds, we need to know that there's a proper timetable for doing this, we need to know that there would be a proper process for doing it, and crucially there would have to be consequences if it wasn't done."
Mr Cameron said Syria's chemical arsenal was the biggest in the world and the plan should mean that it is not only handed over to an international agency but also destroyed.
Mr Cameron added: "If this is a serious proposal, we should treat it accordingly. Of course we should be sceptical, of course we should not forget a war crime has been committed.
"This could be a major step forward, as I said in the House yesterday, but we need to test it out properly.
"I think we should also be clear that none of this would be happening if there wasn't serious international pressure, led by the United States, on Syria over the issue of chemical weapons."