No deal in UN Security Council on Syria resolution

AFP , Thursday 29 Sep 2011

UN Security Council concludes talks on Syria without an agreement on a new resolution, after Russia slammed Europe's effort to threaten sanctions against Damascus

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Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of United Nations greets Walid Al-Moualem, Foreign Minister of Syria during the 66th UN General Assembly at UN Headquarters, Tuesday (AP)


The 15-member Security Council discussed rival draft resolutions on the Syria crisis drawn up by France, Britain, Germany and Portugal on one side and Russia on the other.

The Europeans have proposed a new resolution in which they drop demands for immediate sanctions but want to threaten President Bashar al-Assad with action if he does not end his deadly crackdown on opposition protests.

Russia opposes any hint of sanctions and the latest version of its draft resolution seeks to condemn violence by all sides in Syria.

Germany's UN envoy, Peter Wittig, said after the talks that all sides were still committed to delivering a "strong and unified message" to Assad's regime.

"The discussion was a good one," Wittig told reporters.

"We still hope that... we can get a strong and unified message of the council that the Syrian regime has to stop violence and engage in dialogue," he said.

"We aspire to an early vote because the situation is urgent," he said, adding that discussions would continue on Thursday.

Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin called the European proposal "a continuation of the Libya policy of regime change."

Russia and China have accused NATO of using UN resolutions on Libya to force out Muammar Gaddafi and say they fear new military action in Syria.

"Let's face it, we have heard statements in various capitals describing what is legitimate and what is not, and we think that this line of thinking and speaking is encouraging violence in Syria," Churkin told reporters.

He said the Russian resolution "is something which if adopted by the council will encourage the political process in Syria and will help stop violence."

China's UN ambassador, Li Baodong, said the final resolution must be "promoting a peaceful solution, promoting dialogue."

The European version, which has US backing, would strongly condemn "the continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities" and demand "an immediate end to all violence," according to a copy of the draft resolution obtained by AFP.

The UN body "expresses its determination, in the event that Syria has not complied with this resolution, to adopt targeted measures, including sanctions," the draft adds.

The resolution stresses the need for a "Syrian-led political process" to end the crisis and regrets Assad's failure to follow through on promised reforms. It would call for the naming of a special UN envoy on Syria.

European diplomats say they want to speed up the debate on the international response to Assad's clampdown which the UN says has cost more than 2,700 lives.

Russia and China have threatened to veto any sanctions resolution brought to the 15-nation council, which has so far only agreed on one statement on the crackdown since mid-March. Brazil, India and South Africa have also expressed opposition.

US officials said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed the action with China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in New York on Monday.

In Washington, Clinton's spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States was working with its EU partners on the resolution, which she said should have "consequences" for the Syrian regime without actually mentioning sanctions.

"We want a resolution with teeth. We want a resolution that makes it absolutely clear to the Assad regime that the violence needs to end," Nuland told reporters.

When asked if her calls for "consequences" meant sanctions, Nuland replied: "tightening .... the economic and political noose on the Syrian regime."

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