UN Security Council seeks to heal Syria divisions in Sweden
21 April 2018
In a rare meeting outside New York, the UN Security Council is holding talks at a remote farmhouse in southern Sweden.
The informal session, which is held annually, is expected to focus on the Syrian conflict and on overcoming members’ deep divisions on the subject.
The Swedish hosts say they hope to inject new momentum to the process.
The annual brainstorming session which sees the gathering of 15 ambassadors and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is normally held in upstate New York.
They have been invited to the talks taking place in Backåkra by Sweden, a non-permanent member of the body.
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The summer house where they have congregated was that of former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, who was the UN’s second secretary-general and died in a plane crash in Africa in 1961.
The southern wing serves as the summer residence for the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Literature Prize.
Sweden’s deputy UN ambassador Carl Skau said the idea was “to recreate dialogue” and “relaunch momentum” with “humility and patience”, a week after the air strikes by France, the UK and the US against Syria in retaliation for an alleged chemical attack in Douma.
“It’s important for the council’s credibility,” Mr Skau told reporters in New York.
The air strikes, carried out without a Security Council resolution, have led to fierce tensions between Russia, a permanent member and ally of Syria, and the US, France, the UK and China.
But on Friday, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom warned against nurturing “excessive hopes that the entire [Syrian] issue will be resolved” at the meeting.
“Above all, we need to have time to talk about the long-term role of the Security Council and the United Nations in the Syrian conflict,” she said.