Hollande warns UN resolution on Syria must contain threat of sanction
Kerry says US threat of force is real while Israel says it awaits action ‘not words’
US secretary of state John Kerry gets out of his car before departing the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. Photograph: Larry Downing/Reuters
US secretary of state John Kerry, right, and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a news conference on the Syrian conflict in Jerusalem today. Photograph: Jim Hollander/Pool via The New York Times
A United Nations resolution framing the Russia-US deal on removing Syria’s chemical weapons must include the threat of some kind of sanction in the event that Syria does not comply with the accord, French president Francois Hollande said today.
Speaking on French prime-time television, Mr Hollande said resolution could be voted by the end of the week. He added that a political and diplomatic solution to the wider Syrian conflict was possible but stressed that the option of military strikes must remain on the table.
Meanwhile, US secretary of state John Kerry said today that the United States would maintain its threat of unilateral military force to ensure the success of the plan to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.
“This will only be as effective as its implementation,” Mr Kerry said in a joint news conference with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.
“The threat of force is real.”
Mr Kerry traveled to Jerusalem as the first stop in a series of meetings with allies to assure support for the chemical weapons deal, which was completed yesterday in Geneva. After conferring with Mr Netanyahu, Mr Kerry left for Paris for another meeting with close allies.
Tomorrow, he plans to meet with the foreign ministers of France, Britain, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
After meeting with Kerry, Mr Netanyahu offered support for the plan, the first official sign of Israel’s approval. Earlier, speaking at a state ceremony commemorating the Israelis killed in the 1973 war, he had also expressed a measure of skepticism.
“We hope that the understandings reached between the US and Russia on Syrian chemical weapons will yield results,” Mr Netanyahu said at the ceremony. “Those understandings will be judged by the results - the total destruction of all the chemical weapon stocks that the Syrian regime used against its own citizens.”
Both the prime minister and Mr Kerry said the world’s response to the chemical weapons attack last month near Damascus would serve as a message to Iran as the West prepared to resume negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program. “Here, too, it is not words that count, but the deeds and results,” Mr Netanyahu said.
“In any case, Israel must be ready and prepared to defend itself with its own forces against any threat, and that capability and readiness is more important now than ever.”
Mr Kerry said today that the agreement reached with Russia was a “framework, not a final agreement,” and still had to be put into effect through a UN Security Council resolution.
Under the Geneva pact, the terms of the accord are to be included in a resolution under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which would authorise punitive measures if Syria does not comply.
Earlier, Syria‘s government hailed as a “victory” the Russian-brokered deal.
President Bashar al-Assad‘s jets and artillery hit rebel suburbs of the capital again today in an offensive that residents said began last week when Mr Obama delayed air strikes in the face of opposition from Moscow and his own electorate.
Speaking of the US-Russian deal, Syrian minister Ali Haidar told Moscow’s RIA news agency: “These agreements ... are a victory for Syria, achieved thanks to our Russian friends.”
Though not close to Dr Assad, Ali was the first Syrian official to react to Saturday‘s accord in Geneva by US secretary of state John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. Bridging an angry East-West rift over Syria, they agreed to back a nine-month UN programme to destroy Dr Assad’s chemical arsenal.