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France's Ayrault travels to Russia, U.S. to push Syria U.N. resolution
October 5, 2016 / 3:20 PM / 10 months ago

France's Ayrault travels to Russia, U.S. to push Syria U.N. resolution

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France's Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault leave 10 Carlton House Terrace in central London, where representatives from Britain, China, France and energy company EDF signed an agreement to build and operate a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, Britain, September 29, 2016.Peter Nicholls

PARIS (Reuters) - France's foreign minister will travel to Russia and the United States on Thursday and Friday to try to persuade both sides to adopt a U.N. Security Council resolution to impose a ceasefire in Syria.

The trip by Jean-Marc Ayrault comes after the collapse of a ceasefire brokered by the two powers last month, which has been followed by intense Syrian and Russian bombing of rebel-held areas of the northern city of Aleppo. Washington broke off talks with Moscow on Monday, accusing Russia of breaking its commitments.

"This trip is in the framework of efforts by France to get a resolution adopted at the U.N. Security Council opening the path for a ceasefire in Aleppo and aid access for populations that need it so much," Ayrault's ministry said.

The 15-member council began negotiations on Monday on a French and Spanish draft resolution that urges Russia and the United States to ensure an immediate truce in Aleppo and to "put an end to all military flights over the city."

Russia and China have previously protected the Syrian government from council action by blocking several resolutions, including a bid to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said on Monday that Moscow was engaged in discussions on the draft text even if he not especially enthusiastic on its language.

Ayrault, who has accused Syria, backed by Russia and Iran, of carrying out war crimes as part of an "all-out war" on its people, travels to Moscow on Thursday and Washington on Friday.

French officials have said that if Moscow were to oppose the resolution they would be ready to put it forward anyway to force Moscow into a veto, underscoring its complicity with the Syrian government.

The draft text, seen by Reuters, also asks U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to propose options for a U.N.-supervised monitoring of a truce and threatens to "take further measures" in the event of non-compliance by "any party to the Syrian domestic conflict."

The draft resolution urges Russia and the United States "to ensure the immediate implementation of the cessation of hostilities, starting with Aleppo, and, to that effect, to put an end to all military flights over the city."

A French diplomatic source said: "It's all that's left. We're not fools. The Russians aren't going to begin respecting human rights from one day to the next, but it's all we have to put pressure on them."

Since the collapse of the latest ceasefire in September, Russian and Syrian warplanes have launched their biggest offensive on Aleppo's besieged rebel-held sectors, in a battle that has become a potentially decisive turning point in the five-year civil war.

Reporting By John Irish; editing by Leigh Thomas and Mark Trevelyan

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