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Russia, China veto UN resolution on Syria; India, US disappointed

Sunday February 05, 2012 09:49:28 AM, Agencies

United Nations: Russia and China Saturday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Syria that calls on President Bashar al-Assad to step down. A disgusted United States reacting on the outcome said China and Russia would be blamed for further bloodshed in Syria.

India and 12 other members of the UN Security Council members voted in favour of the resolution condemning Syria.

Syrian authorities blame the violence on armed gangs affiliated with Al Qaeda and say more than 2,000 soldiers and police have been killed.

Russia, one of al-Assad's firm supporters during the uprising against his regime, indicated earlier this week that it would veto the draft resolution calling on the president to step down.


The West has been trying to persuade Moscow to support a resolution effectively authorising a military operation but Russia has repeatedly insisted that the Western drive for a stronger crackdown on Syria is preparation for a "Libyan scenario".

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier said the resolution did not set enough demands on anti-government armed groups, and that Russia was concerned it could jeopardize the national dialogue among political forces in Syria. "The draft resolution "did not reflect Syria's realities well enough and sent conflicting signals to the political forces in Syria", he said.

Lavrov and Foreign Intelligence Service head Mikhail Fradkov will visit Syria and meet al-Assad Feb 7.

'India disappointed'

As a UN Security Council draft resolution to pressure Syria failed after China and Russia voted against it, India said it backed the motion as it favoured resolving the crisis through a Syrian-led inclusive political process. US Ambassador Susan Rice said the United States was "disgusted" at the veto by Russia and China.

"Our support for the resolution is in accordance with our support for the efforts by the Arab League for a peaceful resolution of the crisis through a Syrian-led inclusive political process," India's Permanent Representative Hardeep Singh Puri told the Council Saturday.

The resolution intended to pressure Syria to end its months-long crackdown on anti-government demonstrators, he noted, "expressly rules out any measures under Article 42 of the Charter and calls for serious political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the opposition under the auspices of the League of Arab States."

Asserting that "the leadership of Syria is a matter for the Syrian people to decide," Puri said: "It would be necessary for all opposition forces in Syria to peacefully engage in constructive dialogue with the authorities."

"We hope that this will create a new environment for peace and facilitate a political process," he said. "This political dialogue should build upon the political reforms already announced by the Syrian leadership with necessary changes so that they find acceptance among all sections of Syrian society."

Ambassadors from three other permanent members of the council - the United States, France, and the United Kingdom - said they were furious at Russia and China for failing to halt the worsening, bloody violence that has consumed the Middle Eastern nation.

In a strongly-worded statement before the vote, US President Barack Obama said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has lost all legitimacy and that the international community "must work to protect the Syrian people from this abhorrent brutality."

He pointed the finger directly at al-Assad and what he called his "killing machine."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the vote was a lost opportunity to halt the violence. The resolution would have demanded that al-Assad stop the killing and answer international calls aimed at finding a Syrian-led solution to the crisis.


'US disgusted'

US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said she was "disgusted" by the Russian and Chinese veto on a UN Security Council resolution on Syria that urges President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

"Any further bloodshed that flows will be on their (Russia's and China's) hands," she said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the failure to condemn al-Assad increased the risk of more bloodshed and civil war in Syria.

"If we do not begin the process, I know what will happen: more bloodshed, increasing resistance by those whose families are being killed and whose homes are being bombed, and a greater likelihood that Syria will descend into civil war," Clinton said.

This was the second time that Russia and China as permanent members have vetoed the Syria issue. In October, they blocked a European-sponsored resolution condemning Syria and threatening possible sanctions.

At least 5,400 people have been killed in the Syrian government's 11-month crackdown on protesters, according to the UN. Syrian authorities blame the violence on armed gangs affiliated with Al Qaeda and say more than 2,000 soldiers and police have been killed.







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