(29 May 2018) The US ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament has walked out of a session of the UN-hosted body after Syria took up its rotating presidency.
Several nations spoke out in favor of Syria’s role, while several Western countries criticized its government’s alleged use of chemical weapons.
Countries including Pakistan and Iraq were among those that hailed the ascendancy of Syria to the presidency of the 65-nation conference, which came as part of simple rotation by alphabetical order in English. Syria took over from the previous president, Switzerland.
The US ambassador Robert Wood briefly stormed out of the room as Syria’s envoy, Ambassador Hussam Edin Aala, began chairing the session.
Wood returned a short while later, and delivered searing remarks about the behavior of the government of President Bashar Assad during Syria’s 7-year civil war.
At a news conference before the session, Wood said Syria’s presidency of the Geneva-based body was a “travesty.”
Syria took up the rotating presidency Monday. It will chair the body for a four-week period.
Russia’s envoy, like several others that welcomed Syria’s presidency, said the CD should not be the venue for “politicized” remarks.
The UN-hosted conference is the world’s most important disarmament negotiating forum, though it has achieved little in recent years.
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