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As world leaders prepare to arrive in New York for the annual U.N. General Assembly gathering next week, Security Council diplomats continue grappling over a resolution on the Syrian crisis.
The differences were most recently voiced Friday as Russia, a key ally of Damascus, presented a draft text to Britain, China, France and the United States -- the other permanent council members -- which did not include a reference to Chapter 7, according to diplomats who said the negotiations are "ongoing."
Under the U.N. charter, Chapter 7 would allow for sanctions or even military action.
Britain, France and the United States have been pressing for the inclusion of such threats in order to ensure that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad complies with a Russian-American agreement reached on Sept. 14.
The plan, reached after three days of negotiations between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, called on Syria to secure and eliminate its chemical weapons under international supervision.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told Kyodo News before meeting with U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power on Thursday that the tough negotiations are a "step-by-step process."
After a flurry of meetings among veto-wielding council members, some diplomats voiced hope that a vote on the resolution could have come as early as the weekend, well ahead of the arrival of the top leaders next week.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on Monday turned in a much-anticipated report to the Security Council in which a team of experts concluded that a large amount of sarin nerve gas had been used on civilians in an attack carried out last month in the suburbs of Damascus.
Kerry on Thursday said the United States is convinced the report showed Assad's regime was behind the Aug. 21 attack on the rebel-held neighborhood, while Moscow has voiced concerns about the report's objectivity.
"The Security Council must be prepared to act next week," Kerry told reporters Thursday in Washington. "It is vital for the international community to stand up and speak out in the strongest possible terms about the importance of enforceable action to rid the world of Syria's chemical weapons."
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