US boycotts world disarmament body over Syria presidency

The US said it would boycott Tuesday's (June 5th) session of the Conference on Disarmament amid fears that Syria is using its presidency of the body to "normalise" the regime, AFP reported.

"Based on Syria's repeated attempts last week to use its presidency of the Conference on Disarmament to normalise the regime and its unacceptable and dangerous behaviour, we are not participating in today's session," Robert Wood, the US ambassador to the Geneva-based body, said in a statement.

"We will continue to defend US' interests" in the disarmament body, he added.

Syria last week took over the body's rotating, four-week presidency, which according to a decades-old practice among its 65 member states follows the alphabetical order of country names in English.

Wood was present during the first plenary session on Syria's watch a week ago, when he took the opportunity to lead a number of countries to protest what he described as "a travesty".

Despite the mechanical nature of Syria's arrival at the helm of the disarmament conference, following Switzerland and Sweden, a number of countries voiced their outrage that a representative of Damascus was presiding over the body that negotiated the chemical weapons ban.

After hundreds of people died in chemical attacks near Damascus in 2013, a deal with Russia was struck to rid Syria of chemical weapons.

But the UN and Western countries have accused Damascus of carrying out a number of chemical attacks since then.

A suspected chlorine and sarin attack in the Syrian town of Douma on April 7th this year triggered punitive missile strikes against alleged chemical weapons sites in Syria by the US, Britain and France.

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