Gulf Arabs say Russian plan will not stop Syrian bloodshed

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 10, 2013 11:15 AM

RIYADH (Reuters) - Gulf Arab states said on Thursday that a Russian proposal to place Syria's chemical weapons under international control with the aim of averting a U.S. strike would not end the bloodshed in Syria.

The Sunni Muslim-led Gulf Cooperation Council, which comprises Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman alongside the current chairman Bahrain, is a main backer of rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Russian proposal, accepted by Damascus, aims to prevent the United States launching an attack on Syria to punish it for a chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds of civilians.

"We've heard of the initiative," Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa told a news conference after a meeting of the GCC, in the Gulf Arabs' first response.

"It's all about chemical weapons, but doesn't stop the spilling of the blood of the Syrian people."

In an address at the start of the meeting, Khalifa called for "appropriate deterrent measures against those who committed this crime" and said the chemical attack required "the United Nations and the international community, represented by the Security Council, to shoulder its responsibility".

The Gulf Arab states have been among the strongest proponents of intervention against Assad, who is backed by Shi'ite Iran, their main rival for influence in the region.

The United States has accused Assad of responsibility for last month's attack on Damascus suburbs. He denies any links.

(Reporting by Mahmoud Habboush and Shahed Qamhiya, Writing by Sami Aboudi and Angus McDowall; Editing by Kevin Liffey)