France calls for 'good faith' UN negotiations on Syria

French Ambassador to the UN, Francois Delattre -- seen here at a UN Security Council meeting on April 14, 2018 -- is calling for "good faith" negotiations on Syria

France called on UN Security Council members Monday to enter into "good faith" negotiations on a Syria resolution that deals with chemical weapons, protection of civilians and a political settlement to the seven-year-old conflict.

An initial meeting of experts representing the Council's 15 members has been set for 1830 GMT, France's ambassador to the United Nations, Francois Delattre said.

Delattre said discussions would be held "in good faith, in good spirits" but that there is "no artificial timeframe" for bringing a resolution to a vote.

"What we want to do is to engage in real, productive, serious negotiations ... with all Security Council members," he told reporters.

"The goal of this resolution is clear: it is for the Security Council to restart a collective action to deal with the chemical dossier, to protect the civilian population and to work on a political settlement to the Syrian crisis."

It is the first time since the Syrian conflict began in 2011 that a resolution has been proposed dealing with all three issues.

Initiated by France, and supported by the United States and Britain, the draft resolution was introduced on Saturday, less than 24 hours after the three allies launched air strikes in Syria in retaliation for an alleged chemical attack in the then rebel-held town of Douma on April 7.

Russia, and Damascus, deny regime forces used chemical weapons in Douma, despite graphic video and photographs showing children and other apparent victims of the attack, which killed more than 40 people.

The draft resolution calls for the creation of an independent panel to investigate and assign responsibility for the use of chemical weapons.

It also demands the complete dismantling of Syria's chemical weapons program under the supervision of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Other provisions include a ceasefire, unrestricted humanitarian access throughout the country and the relaunching of peace talks in Geneva.

Russia, which backs the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad militarily and politically, has used its veto a dozen times to block UN Security Council resolutions on Syria.