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UN considers revised Syria resolution
UN diplomats are mulling a revised Syria resolution intended to overcome Russian objections to a previous text. The new draft supports the move to "facilitate a political transition", but steers clear of demands to force President Assad to resign.
AP - U.N. Security Council ambassadors on Thursday were considering a revised resolution aimed at stopping the bloodshed in Syria that removes an explicit reference to President Bashar Assad stepping aside.
The latest draft, obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, still “fully supports” the Arab League’s Jan. 22 decision to “facilitate a political transition leading to a democratic, plural political system.”
The league’s peace plan calls for Assad to delegate his authority to his deputy.
But in an apparent effort to overcome Russian objections, the new version of the U.N. resolution no longer includes the explicit reference to Assad delegating his powers. It also removes the explicit call for a new national unity government and for transparent, free elections also important parts of the Arab peace plan.
The revised draft also deletes a paragraph calling on U.N. member states to take steps to prevent the flow of arms into Syria. Russia is a major arms supplier to Syria, a key regional ally since Soviet times.
Council ambassadors were to discuss the latest version behind closed doors Thursday afternoon, and issued no statements about the new draft before the gathering.
It was unclear if the change would be enough to get Russian support for the resolution.
The Russians have said that the Arab peace plan would amount to regime change, and they would not back a draft that expressed support for the plan.
As a permanent council member, Russia can use its veto to block the resolution. Russia and China, another permanent member, issued a double veto in October to block an earlier resolution condemning the violence in Syria.
Council diplomats, including Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, had characterized Wednesday’s closed-door discussions on the resolution as constructive.
“I think we have a much better understanding of what we need to do to reach consensus,” Churkin said Wednesday evening.
The U.N. said several weeks ago that at least 5,400 people have been killed in the 10-month-old government crackdown on a civilian uprising.
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the foreign ministers of Britain and France joined Arab League officials in a high-level meeting at the U.N. urging council members to approve a resolution.
Clinton reiterated Wednesday that it was important for the council to move quickly.
“Every member of the council has to make a decision, whose side are you on? Are you on the side of the Syrian people ... or are you on the side of a brutal dictatorial regime?” she said.