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Wednesday, March 1, 2017, 09:12

UN Security Council sanctions on Syria over chemical weapons vetoed

By Xinhua

UN Security Council sanctions on Syria over chemical weapons vetoed
China's Ambassador Liu Jieyi listens to debates in the Security Council after he cast a veto vote against a Western-backed UN resolution that would impose sanctions on Syria, Feb 28, 2017 at UN headquarters. (AP / Bebeto Matthews)

UNITED NATIONS - The UN Security Council on Tuesday failed to adopt a draft resolution aiming to impose sanctions over alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria as Russia and China vetoed it.

Chinese Ambassador to the UN Liu Jieyi told the council that investigations on the use of chemical wesapons are still ongoing and "it is too early to reach a final conclusion"

For the resolution drafted by Britain, France and the United States, nine council members voted in favor. Two veto-wielding powers Russia and China, along with Bolivia, voted against. Kazakhstan, Egypt, Ethiopia abstained.

If adopted, the draft resolution would have imposed asset freeze and travel bans on individuals and entities associated with the Syrian government based on allegations of chemical weapon attacks made by a joint probe of the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

READ MORE: Chinese diplomat hightlights role of UN in political solutions for Syria

The joint inquiry has concluded in its reports that the Syrian government was involved in the use of toxic chemicals as weapons in three cases, and the Islamic States had used mustard gas in one case.

Chinese Ambassador to the UN Liu Jieyi told the council after the vote that investigations on the use of chemical weapons are still ongoing and "it is too early to reach a final conclusion."

He said the council should support the joint inquiry to carry out its investigations in a professional manner and make conclusions with accurate, detailed and solid evidence.

"We oppose the use of chemical weapons by any state, any organization and any individual under any circumstance," he added.

The vote came when a new round of intra-Syrian peace talks in Geneva is underway.

READ MORE: Diplomats disagree over Syria chemical sanctions

Russian Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov said the draft was put to a vote based on a doctrine of western states in spite of the efforts taken in Geneva to settle the Syrian crisis.

"We see this as an attempt to retard and undermine the current political and diplomatic efforts," he said.

The draft resolution would also have banned supply of helicopters to the Syrian government. Safronkov said the measure would undermine counter-terrorism as well as humanitarian relief efforts in Syria.

Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN, told the council that no one should hesitate to impose consequences for chemical weapon attacks.

She said the United States has already designated every person and every entity listed in the draft resolution for sanctions and vowed to work with the EU and other partners to push for similar sanctions as soon as possible.

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