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UN chief: 'Urgent' talks underway ahead of Syria summit

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has said that "intensive and urgent" discussions are underway ahead of a major round of Syria peace talks on Wednesday.

Earlier, Iran's foreign minister Hosein Amirabdollahian is cited as saying that he would not accept any preconditions to take part in the 'Geneva 2' summit in Switzerland.

The ISNA news agency cited him is saying that it could not accept plans for a political transition in Syria as discussed at talks in 2012.

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UN report finds chemical weapons 'used in Syria'

Chemical weapons have been used in the Syrian conflict, according to the final report by UN chemical weapons inspectors, which was presented to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaks in front of Ake Sellstrom (L), Head of the UN Mission to probe Syria chemical weapons use reports Credit: Reuters

According to the report, the weapons were used in a widely publicised attack in the Ghouta area of Damascus on August 21 and probably in four other locations - Khan al Assal, Jobar, Saraqeb and Ashrafiah Sahnaya - between March and late August.

The UN chief said: "The use of chemical weapons is a grave violation of international law, an affront to our shared humanity. We need to remain vigilant to ensure that these awful weapons are eliminated, not only in Syria, but everywhere."

The report did not determine whether the government or opposition were responsible for the alleged attacks. It will now be sent to members of the UN Security Council.

Read more: Syria arms material destroyed

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UN chief: Security Council suffering from 'embarrassing paralysis'

The Secretary-General has accused the Security Council of suffering from an "embarrassing paralysis" on Syria and called on the international community to overcome the deadlock.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon. Credit: PA Wire

Ban Ki-Moon says he is considering asking the UN Security Council to demand Syria immediately transfer chemical weapons to safe sites where they can be destroyed.

UN chief raises questions over legality of US Syria action

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appeared to question the legality of US plans for military action in Syria saying that the use of force is only legal in self-defence or with Security Council backing.

He also added that if the UN inspectors confirm the use of chemical weapons in Syria, the Security Council should overcome its differences and take action.

"If confirmed, any use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances will be a serious violation of international law and outrageous war crime," he told reporters. "Any perpetrators must be brought to justice. There should be no impunity."

Read more - UN chief: 'US attack could unleash more turmoil'

Syria 'chemical' samples to arrive at labs 'within hours'

Samples taken by UN weapons inspectors from the site of an alleged chemical attack in Syria have been sent to laboratories for testing and will arrive "within hours," a UN spokesperson has said.

Since the return of the Mission last Saturday, the UN team worked around the clock to finalise the preparations of the samples in view of their shipment to the designated laboratories.

The samples were shipped this afternoon from The Hague and will reach their destination within hours.

The designated laboratories are prepared to begin the analyses immediately after receipt of samples.

– un spokesperson

Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has held talks with the chief inspector, Dr. Ake Sellström, about how the tests can be sped up and will brief members of the Security Council on Tuesday.

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