New Syria dispute clouds U.N. meet

AFP-JIJI

Russia-U.S. wrangling over a resolution to enforce the destruction of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons cast a shadow Monday over the start of the United Nations General Assembly.

Western diplomats said Moscow’s refusal to support a Security Council resolution giving legal backing to Syria’s disarmament had held up a plan to put the war-torn country’s chemical arms under international control.

A meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday could prove decisive for the plan they agreed earlier this month to head off a U.S. military strike. Kerry also planned to meet Syrian opposition leaders Tuesday.

Russia has accused the U.S. and its allies of using “blackmail” over the resolution and of seeking approval for military force in Syria.