UN Security Council meets over Syria in remote Swedish farmhouse

1 / 6
Photo showing the farmhouse where UN Security Council Members hold a retreat to find a way to break the deadlock on Syria, Backakra outside Ystad, southern Sweden on April 21, 2018. (UN Photo)
2 / 6
Photo showing police at the farmhouse where UN Security Council Members hold a retreat to find a way to break the deadlock on Syria, Backakra outside Ystad, southern Sweden on April 21, 2018. (UN Photo)
3 / 6
Photo showing Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven at the farmhouse where UN Security Council Members hold a retreat to find a way to break the deadlock on Syria, Backakra outside Ystad, southern Sweden on April 21, 2018. (UN Photo)
4 / 6
Photo showing UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the farmhouse where UN Security Council Members hold a retreat to find a way to break the deadlock on Syria, Backakra outside Ystad, southern Sweden on April 21, 2018. (UN Photo)
5 / 6
Photo showing US's UN permanent representative at the farmhouse where UN Security Council Members hold a retreat to find a way to break the deadlock on Syria, Backakra outside Ystad, southern Sweden on April 21, 2018. (UN Photo)
6 / 6
Photo showing US's UN permanent representative Nikki Haley at the farmhouse where UN Security Council Members hold a retreat to find a way to break the deadlock on Syria, Backakra outside Ystad, southern Sweden on April 21, 2018. (UN Photo)
Updated 21 April 2018
0

UN Security Council meets over Syria in remote Swedish farmhouse

BACKARA- SWEDEN: The UN Security Council met in a secluded farmhouse on the southern tip of Sweden on Saturday in a bid to overcome deep divisions over how to end the war in Syria.
In a first for the Council, which normally holds its annual brainstorming session in upstate New York, the 15 ambassadors and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres were this year invited to hold an informal meeting in Backakra by Sweden, a non-permanent member of the body.
The United Nations’ special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, is expected on Sunday.
The farmhouse is the summer residence of Dag Hammarskjold, the United Nations’ second secretary-general who died in a plane crash in Africa in 1961.
Situated in the heart of a nature reserve, just a stone’s throw from the Baltic Sea, the farmhouse consists of four buildings around a courtyard and has been completely renovated in recent years.
The southern wing serves as the summer residence for the Swedish Academy which awards the Nobel Literature Prize.
With both New York and Damascus thousands of kilometers away, the Council is exploring “the means to strengthen and make more effective United Nations peacekeeping missions,” the Swedish government said.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom welcomed the decision to hold the meeting in Sweden, “where there is a long tradition of peaceful conflict prevention and resolution.”
But as she arrived in Backakra on Saturday morning she warned against being too hopeful the Syrian issue would be resolved over the weekend.
“Hopefully there will be some new ideas on the table and I think it’ll be on those tracks: the humanitarian situation, the chemical weapons,” she said.
But “not even the beautiful settings like these can solve all the problems,” the minister added.
The country’s deputy UN Ambassador Carl Skau said the idea was to foster dialogue and “relaunch momentum” with “humility and patience,” a week after the air strikes by France, Britain and the United States against the Syrian regime.
“It’s important for the council’s credibility,” Skau told reporters in New York.
While the war in Syria is not the only topic of the deliberations, it is high up on the agenda because it was an issue that divided council members deeply in recent months.
Skau said Backakra was a “fitting and inspiring venue” to reconnect with the power of diplomacy.
“It’s a place to roll up our sleeves, take off our jackets and ties and come up with some real and meaningful ways forward,” he said.


Bulgaria seizes 288 kilos of heroin in truck from Iran

Updated 18 April 2019
0

Bulgaria seizes 288 kilos of heroin in truck from Iran

  • Two men — the Iranian truck driver and a Turkish man, who was allegedly to receive the drugs in Bulgaria — were detained and indicted for drug trafficking

SOFIA: Bulgarian customs officials confiscated more than 288 kilo (635 pounds) of heroin hidden on a truck from Iran, prosecutors announced Thursday.

The haul is the biggest amount of heroin seized at Bulgaria’s borders this year, the customs agency said.

Two men — the Iranian truck driver and a Turkish man, who was allegedly to receive the drugs in Bulgaria — were detained and indicted for drug trafficking, the Haskovo regional prosecution said in a statement. They risk jail terms from 15 to 20 years, it added.

The drugs were placed in 144 packages hidden inside the floor and ceiling of a spray painting machine transported inside the truck.

It was found when the vehicle was X-rayed upon entering Bulgaria from Turkey at the southeastern Kapitan Andreevo border checkpoint on Sunday, but the seizure was only announced on Thursday.

Bulgaria, which lies on the so-called Balkan drugs route from the Middle East to Western Europe, has seen a several-fold increase in heroin seizures over the past three years.

In 2018, the customs agency confiscated a total of 994 kilos of heroin at the country’s borders, a rise of 13 percent from 2017.