U.N. statement on Syria delayed over Venezuela objections

Venezuela asked for changes to some language regarding any political transition but discussions are ongoing

Published: Updated:

U.N. Security Council approval of a draft statement strongly backing intensive preparatory talks on key issues to restore peace to conflict-torn Syria has been delayed because of objections from Venezuela.

Council diplomats had hoped to adopt the presidential statement on Wednesday afternoon. But Venezuela asked for changes to some language about a political transition and discussions were continuing, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because consultations have been private.

"Expect it to be adopted tomorrow," Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters as he left the council on Wednesday afternoon.

Churkin said last Friday there was "a high possibility" the deeply divided council would endorse U.N. special envoy Staffan de Mistura's recently announced plan aimed at setting the stage for new peace talks to end the Syrian war.

The draft council statement demands that all parties in Syria "work urgently" toward fully implementing the roadmap to peace adopted by key nations in Geneva in June 2012. It calls for the formation of a transitional government with full executive powers "on the basis of mutual consent" and ends with elections.

The roadmap would require Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose government is backed by Russia, to relinquish power. Assad, however, has shown no sign of stepping down and his government has called a transitional government unconstitutional while the opposition and Western powers insist his departure is essential.

The draft statement, obtained by The Associated Press, supports de Mistura's plans to hold simultaneous discussions among the Syrian parties on key aspects of the Geneva roadmap and urges all parties "to engage in good faith" with him.