U.N. veto powers agree endorsement of Syria peace process

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and current Security Council President Samantha Power speaks to members of the Security Council about the maintenance of international peace and security on trafficking in persons in situations of conflict, during a meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The five United Nations Security Council veto powers have agreed the text of a draft resolution to endorse an international roadmap for a Syria peace process and the 15-member body is expected to adopt it later on Friday, diplomats said.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, was phoning each of the remaining 10 members of the council to brief them on the text, said diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity. The council is due to meet at 4 p.m. ET.

The four-page draft, seen by Reuters, backs a nationwide ceasefire in Syria to come into effect “as soon as the representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition have begun initial steps towards a political transition under U.N. auspices.”

It also asks U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report back within one month on options for a ceasefire monitoring, verification and reporting mechanism.

The draft asked the United Nations to convene representatives of the Syrian government and opposition for formal negotiations with a target start date of January.

It “demands that all parties immediately cease any attacks against civilians and civilian objects” and “stresses that the Syrian people will decide the future of Syria.”

Reporting by Michelle Nichols, editing by Louis Charbonneau