Russia proposes U.N. resolution on Syria; U.S. hopes to work with Moscow on draft


Russia on Thursday proposed a Security Council resolution on the Syrian crisis as international fears over the violence in the country grew, Al Arabiya reported.

As a key ally of President Bashar al-Assad, Russia has tried to head off Security Council intervention in the Syrian crisis. With China, it vetoed a council resolution proposed by European nations in October condemning Assad’s crackdown on protests which the U.N. says has left 5,000 dead.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States hopes it can work with Russia on the draft resolution it proposed to the U.N. Security Council on the Syria crisis.

Though Clinton indicated Washington had differences with Moscow on the draft, the chief U.S. diplomat said it was the “first time” that Russia has recognized the violence in Syria needs to be taken up by the Security Council.

“There are some issues in it that we would not be able to support. There's unfortunately a seeming parity between the government and peaceful protesters,” said Clinton, who blames the Syrian regime alone for the violence.

“We are going to study the draft carefully ... Hopefully we can work with the Russians,” Clinton told reporters, according to AFP. “We hope to be able to work with them.”

Russia called emergency talks of the 15 nation body on Syria however to propose the new resolution which western diplomats said they did not find acceptable but could be negotiated on.

“We did address the situation in Syria and we started out by noting that there are two things united members of Security Council regarding the situation in Syria. First one is our concern regarding the developing crisis and the second is the feeling that the Security Council can’t play a useful and constructive role in trying to resolve this crisis,” Vitaly Churkin, Russian ambassador to the U.N. told reporters.

“As far as Russia is concerned, our attitude to deal with crisis is reflected with the statement of Aug. 3, which is a consensus document adopted by the Security Council, and also in the Russian-Chinese draft resolution on Syria, which was introduced to the Security Council a few months ago,” he said.

Churkin said that Russia updated the previous draft and proposed to the Security Council a new version which takes into account the development of the past few months which strengthened all aspects of previous text, “with regards to need to stop violence, with regards to the need to uphold human rights and with regard expediting reforms and especially we believe it’s important to give strong message to all that we encourage them to continue their efforts, and working together with government of Syria and to carry out its plan to deploy monitoring mission in Syria.”

“We all believe that the Security Council must do something. The role of the Security Council should not be not to exacerbate crisis but to bring end to crisis,” Churkin said.

The Russian ambassador to the U.N. said: “We made no secret of fact that we call on violence to be stopped on all sides. We are concerned about weapons smuggling and the armed groups operating in Syria. Our assessment of situation that various violent groups taking advantage of peaceful protesters to pursue their agenda. Those concerns are reflected in the draft resolution.”

When asked whether Russia has condemned the smuggling of weapons into Syria, he said “this is something which is incorporated in the draft resolution, comments about that but we’ll leave it till later.”

The French envoy to the United Nations welcomed the resolution proposed by Russia on the Syrian crisis, saying it was “an extraordinary event.”

“Russia has decided to move on the resolution project... We think that it is because Russia has felt the pressure of the international community,” France’s envoy to the U.N., Gerard Araud, told journalists.

We “need to show that the violence has come from the Syrian regime which has shot down thousands of demonstrators... Primary responsible of the violence is the behavior of armed forces and secondly the refusal of Syrian regime to engage in genuine reform.”

Meanwhile, the German ambassador Peter Wittig said that the silent on Syria was unbearable. “We are discussing the situation in Syria in serious manner.” He described the Syrian situation as “dramatic.”

“We are engaging the resolution by Russia and there is opportunity to bridge gaps, and break silence of the Security Council. We need to embrace what Human Rights council has said and take up what Pillay has told us,” Wittig told reporters. “It’s time for the Security Council to send strong messages to Syria and Syrian authorities.”

“Accountability is what we want to see in this kind of resolution, that’s why we have to think of the Security Council mandated independent investigation commission. Accountability is key element of any resolution,” added Wittig.

A leading Syrian human rights activist earlier on Thursday urged the international community to cut diplomatic ties with Damascus and up pressure on Russia to stop blocking U.N. action against the regime there.

“So far 5,000 people have been killed in Syria, among them are 277 children, 159 women and a lot of people were killed under torture. All this is happening in cold blood and the international community is watching and doing nothing,” Rami Abdurrahman, founder of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on the sidelines of a European Union conference in Warsaw, AFP reported.

“Russia’s support, that is the main problem,” he said but stressed Syrians did not want the West to engage in any military action similar to the NATO air strikes which played a key role in toppling the regime of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, he said.

Arab League postpones meeting

Arab League foreign ministers have postponed indefinitely their meeting that was to take place this weekend on responding to Syria’s proposal to admit observers in exchange for an end to regional sanctions, the Arab League said late Thursday.

A meeting of the Arab task force in charge of the Syrian crisis will take place in Doha, instead of Cairo, on Saturday, added the Arab League’s number two Ahmed Ben Helli.

He also said that at the same time negotiations would continue aimed at getting Damascus to sign the Arab plan to protect Syrian civilians, including sending observers to Syria to try to end the deadly crackdown on dissent by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

On Thursday, the pan-Arab organization’s secretary-general Nabil al-Arabi again met in Cairo with representatives of the Syrian opposition.

Syria said on Sunday it will allow observers into the country as part of an Arab peace plan to end months of violence, in a bid to avoid sweeping sanctions the bloc decided to impose on the Damascus regime.

But its Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, in a letter to Arabi, said Syria would accept the monitors under certain conditions, including the lifting of sanctions the Arab League approved on November 27.