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G20 opportunity for Syria initiative


Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

5 September 2013     MEDIA STATEMENT

G20 opportunity for Syria initiative

New Zealand should be urging Russia and the United States to agree on a common response to the crisis in Syria at tomorrow’s G20 meeting, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Phil Goff says.

“The meeting in St Petersburg provides an opportunity for both countries to agree on effective action to require Syria to destroy its chemical weapons, and to begin negotiations to end the conflict.

“President Putin is now claiming that if there is evidence the Assad regime was responsible for the poison gas attack, Russia would support action against Syria.

“The US should front up with the evidence it says shows the chemical weapons rockets were fired by the Syrian Government. The Russians in return need to commit to starving the Assad regime of the weapons and financial support it needs to continue the war against its own people.

“Both Russia and the US have ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention and condemn the use of poison gas. So too have 187 other UN member countries.

“It is hard to understand why the UN Security Council is not collectively demanding Syria pass across its chemical weapons stock for UN supervised destruction.

“New Zealand should be arguing that case to both countries and at the United Nations.

“Taking such initiatives is not only the right thing to do, it would also enhance our reputation as a small country that is committed to the United Nations as a channel to resolve disputes, and prepared to speak out on critical issues.

“That would strengthen our case for election to the UN Security Council in 2014,” Phil Goff says.


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