Diplomats: US won't negotiate on Russia's UN draft on Syria

AP News
Posted: Sep 24, 2015 12:29 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Diplomats said Thursday the United States has refused to negotiate over a draft statement that Russia had hoped the U.N. Security Council would approve to bolster its position on Syria ahead of a major gathering of world leaders.

A draft of Russia's council statement, obtained by The Associated Press, urges countries to fight extremist groups "in coordination with the governments of the affected states."

That language can be seen as a reference to Syria's government, which Russia supports. Russian military shipments to Syria have alarmed the U.S. and its allies in recent weeks, and President Vladimir Putin is expected to defend them in a U.N. speech Monday.

The United States had no immediate comment on the draft.

A Kremlin spokesman has said Putin will meet President Barack Obama on Monday.

Russia's proposal is for a presidential statement, a political statement that shows important council backing. Last month, the Security Council found rare unity on Syria to unanimously approve such a statement supporting the U.N. envoy on Syria's new plan aimed at setting the stage for new peace talks.

That came during a flurry of diplomatic activity to try to end Syria's conflict, now in its fifth year.

One Security Council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because the discussion was not a public one, said Russia's new military buildup put a damper on those diplomatic efforts.

Russia's draft seeks to draw the global community into a united effort to fight extremism. It also urges countries in the Middle East "to combat terrorism as a primary regional security concern and coordinate their actions" against the Islamic State group, al-Qaida and other organizations.

But the U.S. and its allies object strongly to any coordination with Syrian President Bashar Assad.