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Ban says UN inspectors need 'four days' in Syria

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that UN inspectors needed four days in total to conclude a probe into chemical weapons use in Syria.

"My mandate and my responsibility at this time is to conduct a thorough and complete investigation," Ban told reporters in The Hague.

"Let them (inspectors) conclude their work for four days," he said, speaking at the centenary anniversary of the Peace Palace, seat of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nations' highest court.

The UN chief added that the team's findings would then be analysed and the result sent to the UN Security Council for "any action they would deem to take".

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said later that Ban was referring to a total of four days. This suggests that the inspectors, who began their probe of the alleged chemical weapons site on Monday but whose work was suspended on Tuesday, needed at least until Friday to complete their work.

Ban's comments came as the United States and its allies were building their case for military action against the Syrian regime over the alleged chemical weapons attacks, despite stern warnings from Russia.

The UN chief earlier called on a divided Security Council to unite and find a diplomatic solution to the escalating Syrian conflict.

"Syria is the biggest challenge of war and peace in the world today. The body entrusted with maintaining international peace and security cannot be missing in action," Ban said, referring to the Security Council.

"The Council must at last find the unity to act. It must use its authority for peace," Ban said.

"The Syrian people deserve solutions, not silence," Ban said.

"We must pursue all avenues to get the parties to the negotiating table," he said.

He also warned that any move to supply weapons to either side would only worsen the situation.

"To those providing weapons to either side, we must ask: what have those arms achieved but more bloodshed?

"The military logic has given us a country on the verge of total destruction, a region in chaos and a global threat. Why add more fuel to the fire?"

Ban said however that all perpetrators of chemical attacks would be brought to justice, but that the facts had to established first.

The UN inspectors have "collected valuable samples" and have conducted interviews with victims and witnesses since arriving in the strive-torn country.

"They need time to do their jobs," Ban said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130828/ban-says-un-inspectors-need-four-days-syria-1