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France

France calls UN Security Council meeting on Syria

media Syrians try to flee to Labanon at Al-Masnaa Reuters/Mohamed Azakir

France is to call a ministerial meeting of the UN Security Council on Syria on 30 August, the Foreign Affairs Ministry announced Wednesday. Iran, whose envoy Saeed Jalili met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday, has organised its own meeting on the crisis on Thursday.

The meeting is being described as principally concerned with the humanitarian situation in Syria.

But, France, which chairs the Security Council in August, declared Wednesday that it had called it to “show its support for the Syrian people, its growing concern for regional stability and its support for a transition to a democratic and pluralist system”.

Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius, who will chair the meeting, is to visit Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey on 15-17 August.

More than 22,000 Iraqis have fled Syria in less than three weeks and 12,600 have done so since the beginning of the year, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

“Despite the divisions that have ruled over recent months, the Security Council cannot remain silence when faced with the tragedy that is playing out in Syria,” Fabius’s spokesperson Vincent Floreani said.

Diplomats say that it is uncertain whether Russia or China, which have vetoed three resolutions proposing sanctions on Syria, will attend.

Iran has invited countries that have taken a “realistic and principled stand” on the Syrian conflict to meet on Thursday. Outgoing UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan and the Lebanese government have said they will not attend.

In a letter to UN chief Ban Ki-moon Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Al Akbar Salehi appealed for help to free 48 of its citizens who have been captured by the anti-Assad Free Syrian Army.

Iran insists they are pilgrims going to Damascus while the rebels claim they are Revolutionary Guards sent to support Assad. Three of them are reported to have been killed.

After meeting Assad in Damascus, Iranian envoy Saeed Jalili declared that Syria was an “essential pillar” of a “resistance axis” which Tehran will never all to break.

Syria on Wednesday announced that its troops had seized control of the Salaheddin district of Aleppo and “annihilated” the rebels who held it. The insurgents denied the claim.

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