UN Security Council meeting on Syria ends in deadlock
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A meeting of the UN Security Council's permanent members has ended without reaching an agreement to resolve the Syrian crisis. Representatives from the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China met on Thursday afternoon at the UN headquarters in New York for the second time in two days, but the meeting broke up after less than an hour, with the ambassadors steadily walking out. The diplomats made no comments about the Security Council's session. British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant looked gloomy as he walked past reporters. The previous meeting on Wednesday also abruptly ended with the Security Council deeply divided over a British-proposed draft resolution to authorize military action against Syria. The Western members of the council have been pushing for a resolution on the use of force while Russia and China are strongly opposed to any attack on Syria. The call for military action against Syria intensified after foreign-backed opposition forces accused the government of President Bashar al-Assad of launching a chemical attack on militant strongholds in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21. Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi said on Wednesday that the West is seeking to turn Syria into a second Iraq and that the issue of chemical weapons use is only a pretext for war. On Tuesday, US Vice President Joe Biden said there is "no doubt" that the Syrian government used chemical weapons and that it must be held accountable, appearing to prepare the ground for the military offensive against the Arab country. US allies, notably Britain, France and Turkey, have also accused Syria of using chemical weapons. During a news conference on Tuesday in Damascus, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem challenged the United States and its allies to present evidence that the government had used chemical weapons. "We are hearing war drums around us. If they want to launch an attack against Syria, I think using the excuse of chemical weapons is not true at all. I challenge them to show what proof they have," Muallem said. He also stated that any military action against Syria would serve the interests of Israel and al-Qaeda-linked militants fighting against the Syrian government. "The war effort led by the United States and their allies will serve the interests of Israel and secondly al-Nusra Front," the Syrian foreign minister noted. Russia urged the West not to jump to conclusions on the chemical weapons attack, and await the findings of a UN inspection team, which will leave the Arab country by Saturday morning. All countries should wait for the results of the probe and "show prudence and avoid tragic mistakes" by jumping to conclusions about the incident, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on August 25. "Our American and European partners must understand what catastrophic consequences this kind of politics would have for the region, for the Arab and Islamic world as a whole," Lukashevich said, advising the West to avoid military action against Syria.