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UN discusses Syrian resolution as violence continues

Updated: 2012-01-28 15:39
( Xinhua)

UNITED NATIONS - The UN Security Council met behind closed doors Friday to discuss a European-Arab draft resolution on Syria as violence continued to inflict casualties in the Middle East country.

UN discusses Syrian resolution as violence continues

Syrian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Bashar Ja'afari speaks to media after a Security Council consultation at the UN headquarters in New York, Jan 27, 2012. [Photo/Xinhua]

The draft resolution, jointly drawn up by Arab states with Britain, France and Germany, was presented to the council by Morocco, the only Arab country in the 15-member UN body.

Though its content is unknown to the public, the Security Council appears divided over the issue.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's permanent representative to the UN, told media after the two-hour closed meeting that he was "deeply disappointed" with the draft but stressed Russia was willing to "engage" on its progress.

He said Russia was "pushing for a Syrian-led political process in Syria, not something imposed by outside powers."

Churkin did not mention the possibility of vetoing the document.

French UN Ambassador Gerard Araud, who also spoke to reporters after the council meeting, said, "Objections were raised during the meeting. There are three or four main objections."

Araud said the objections centered on an arms embargo and sanctions.

He said the council would meet again next week on the draft. "I do hope that we can agree on a resolution at the end of next week, " he said.

Russia, France and Britain, as three of the five permanent members of the Security Council, can exercise the power of veto on any council draft. Morocco and Germany are among the 10 non-permanent members of the UN body.

Russia has made clear its opposition to any unilateral sanctions on Syria by the European Union and the United States, and also opposed the call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

In its latest proposals on the Syria issue, the Arab League (AL), which has had monitors in Syria since late December, urged the Syrian president to hand over power to a deputy and asked the Syrian authorities to set up a national unity government within two months.

With the plan flatly rejected by Syria, AL chief Nabil al-Arabi and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani said they would go to the United Nations Saturday to seek support for the initiatives.

The Arab League has also decided to increase its 120-strong observer mission in Syria by 30.

Syria has agreed to extend the AL monitoring mission, whose tenure was to expire on January 22, for another month.

Mission chief Moustafa al-Dabi said Friday violence in Syria had dramatically escalated in recent days, especially in the areas of Homs, Idlib, and Hama.

According to official reports, more than 20 people were killed over the past three days by armed groups, including government troops, while the opposition estimates the violence killed 80.

Violence has caused heavy loss of life, with the Syrian government saying more than 2,000 army and security personnel were killed while the United Nations puts the death toll at more than 5,000.

Syria has been bogged down in turmoil since March, when anti-government protests broke out.

The Syrian government insists the turmoil is being driven by "terrorists" and foreign-backed "armed gangs."