Ban Ki-Moon to Present Syria Chemical Report

UN leaders have "agonised" over a report that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will present today on chemical weapons in Syria that could renew pressure on President Bashar al-Assad, officials said.

Ban will present the report to the UN Security Council at 11:15 am local time (2045 IST). He has already revealed that he expects the report by a UN investigation team to give "overwhelming" confirmation that arms were used in an attack near Damascus on August 21 in which hundreds died.

But the UN team is not allowed to say who carried out the attack, which the West blames on Assad. While diplomats say the detail will give a clear pointer to who is responsible, opponents and supporters of Assad -- who pleads innocence -- will be looking for evidence to back their case.

A Russia-US accord on the dismantling of Syria's chemical stockpile will also weigh heavily on Security Council consultations expected to be called today.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday slammed what he called attempts to "retouch" the UN report.

Syria's UN envoy, Bashar Jaafari, has also said his government will not accept a "politicised" report.

"Russia, the Americans, all sides, have been putting on pressure over this report," a UN official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Ban's office has agonised over every word. The message has to be how serious this attack was but also support the Russia-US initiative."

The head of the UN team, Swedish expert Ake Sellstrom, arrived in New York yesterday and met Ban, officials said.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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