Russia said Friday it opposed an “unbalanced” U.S.-backed U.N. draft resolution on the Syria crisis because it did not contain a call for a simultaneous halt in violence by the government and rebels.
“We cannot agree with the draft resolution in the form it is being presented in today. The text of the resolution under discussion is unbalanced,” Interfax quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov as saying.
Meanwhile, China said it is sending an envoy to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France to explain its position on Syria, after Beijing called for an end to the year-long conflict in the Middle East country.
China unveiled a six-point peace plan last Sunday, calling for an immediate end to the bloody violence and for dialogue between the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition.
Shielded from U.N Security Council by Russia and China, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad continued its bloody repression of opposition in different parts of the country.
Syrian tanks on Friday fired on opposition districts in Homs, killing four people, activists said, ahead of a mission by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan to end a year-long conflict edging into civil war.
Opponents of President Bashar al-Assad said they were planning to show their strength in the streets after weekly Muslim prayers, but the tankfire kept many indoors in Homs.
They said nationwide protests would mark the anniversary of Kurdish unrest in northeastern Syria in 2004 that was crushed by security forces with about 30 people killed.
Annan has called for dialogue to reach a political solution, but opposition figures chided him for a proposal they said would only give Assad’s forces more time to crush his foes.
Rifts among big powers have blocked any U.N. action to resolve the crisis, with China and Russia firmly opposing any measure that might lead to Libya-style military intervention.
China welcomed the former U.N. chief’s mission. “We hope that Mr Annan uses his wisdom and experience to push for all sides in Syria to end their violence and start the process of peace talks,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said.
Russia, an old ally of Damascus and its main arms supplier, has defended Assad against critics of his bloody crackdown, twice joining China in vetoing U.N. resolutions on Syria.
A Russian diplomat said Assad was battling al-Qaeda-backed “terrorists” including at least 15,000 foreign fighters who would seize cities if government troops withdrew.
Moscow could play a vital role in any diplomatic effort to ease Assad from power and spare Syria further bloodletting.
“If (Annan) can persuade Russia to back a transitional plan, the regime would be confronted with the choice of either agreeing to negotiate in good faith or facing near-total isolation through loss of a key ally,” the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a paper this week.