U.N. Urges Peace as Attack Against Syria Looms

'Give peace a chance. Give diplomacy a chance,' the U.N. chief said.

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Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon visits the Peace Palace in The Hague, The Netherlands, on Aug. 2013, on the day of the celebration of the building's 100th anniversary.

The head of the United Nations made a last-ditch plea for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria Wednesday, even as the United States and other western powers moved closer to military action in the war-torn country.

Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary general, was speaking at the Peace Palace in The Hague when he made his call for peace, the Associated Press reports. “Here in the Peace Palace, let us say: Give peace a chance,” Ban said. “Give diplomacy a chance. Stop fighting and start talking.”

But his remarks seemed likely to fall on deaf ears. The U.N.’s own Syrian envoy said Thursday morning that “it does seem likely some substance was used” in the attack that killed hundreds outside Damascus last week. It’s that attack that has led the Obama administration to say it’s “undeniable” the regime of Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against civilians. U.N. inspectors are still in Syria investigating the attack, but the U.N. envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, called the apparent chemical weapons attack “unacceptable” and “outrageous,” the AP reports. Syria continues to deny it used chemical weapons.

The Obama administration is actively laying the groundwork for a military response. And the United Kingdom is following suit by putting forward a resolution to to the U.N. Security Council “authorizing necessary measures to protect civilians,” BBC reports. Russia and China, among the five permanent members of the council, are not likely to support the measure, having previously blocked action against Syria.