UK & World News
Syria: UN Security Council Members Meet In NY
Representatives of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council have met in New York to discuss proposals on the Syria conflict.
Britain, the US, China, France and Russia were each able to "set out their position", a UN diplomat said, but there were "no real negotiations" in the 45-minute closed-door talks.
Sky's New York Correspondent Hannah Thomas-Peter, speaking from the UN headquarters, said: "This is significant because before now the Security Council failed to even get itself around a table to even start discussing the wording of a potential resolution.
"Throughout Wednesday I'm told diplomats have been working urgently having negotiations about whether or not they can change the wording or the feel of this text, without compromising too many of their own aims and principles, to get the Russians at least to the negotiating table."
It comes after Russia gave the US its plans for placing Syria's chemical weapons under international control following the decision by President Barack Obama to delay a vote on air strikes.
Russia's Interfax news agency reported that the proposals had been handed over ahead of a meeting in Geneva on Thursday between its foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
In an address earlier on Wednesday, Mr Obama said he had asked Congress to postpone any decision on military action so a diplomatic solution could be pursued.
France, Britain and the US had pressed for a UN Security Council resolution on Tuesday that would impose tough consequences should Damascus fail to hand over control of its banned chemical weapons.
But Mr Lavrov said it would be "unacceptable" for the 15-nation council to pass a text that put blame on President Bashar al Assad for an August 21 attack in the Damascus suburbs that is thought to have killed 1,500 people.
Russia had also called a Security Council meeting on Tuesday, but later cancelled.
US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Mr Lavrov in Geneva on Thursday to discuss the handover proposals. He will be accompanied by a team of US arms experts tasked with examining the details of the plans.
Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman, said Russia had so far only "put forward ideas".
She said: "We certainly know that there are challenges. There are potentially a large amount of chemical weapons in Syria's stockpile."
White House spokesman Jay Carney told a news conference he expected the diplomatic wrangling to take "some time".
The Geneva meeting is scheduled to last two days, but could stretch into Saturday.
Russia has so far vetoed three proposed UN resolutions and is thought to be against making any resolution militarily enforceable in the wake of the chemical attack on August 21 that sparked the recent crisis.
In Britain, it emerged that a further five licences have been issued over the last decade for the export to Syria of so-called "dual-use" chemicals, which can be used to manufacture weapons.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said the licences pre-date the outbreak of the civil war in Syria in 2011 and added he was "confident" that the exports were for legitimate commercial purposes.
Mr Cable came under fire over two licences granted in January 2012 for the export of sodium fluoride and potassium fluoride to Syria. The licences were revoked in July last year after EU sanctions were tightened.
The House of Commons Committees On Arms Exports Control (CAEC) released a letter from Mr Cable detailing five further licences for sodium fluoride totalling 4,150kg.