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India abstains from UN resolution on Syria
Thursday May 16, 2013 9:51 AM, IANS

Calling it a "sleight of hand" and a "dangerous precedent which we cannot acquiesce in", India abstained on a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly calling for a political transition in Syria, saying "unilateral action" will not resolve the crisis and would only exacerbate the problem.

India and 58 other states abstained on the resolution drafted by Arab states supporting the rebels. A solid majority of 107 states voted in favour, but that contrasted with 133 that supported a similar resolution in August. There were 12 votes against it.

Explaining India's vote, the country's Permanent UN Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji said: "Whether a group, any group, is the legitimate representative of the Syrian people or not can only be determined by the Syrian people, not this Assembly."

Certain provisions of the "resolution can be interpreted as effecting regime change by sleight of hand," he said calling it a "a dangerous precedent which we cannot acquiesce in."

Reiterating India's position that the leadership of Syria is a matter for Syrians to decide themselves," Mukerji said: "unilateral action of any kind will not resolve the crisis."

"It will only exacerbate the problem and cause greater instability and violence even beyond Syria's borders," he said expressing India's view that "following the settlement of the conflict, Syrians themselves should establish accountability for crimes committed by Syria."

"This cannot be done by outsiders," he said. "We also believe that promotion of political dialogue requires engagement with all parties concerned, and calls for boycott of the government and support of the opposition will not help."

Russia fiercely opposed the resolution saying it was "clearly a one-sided text" and would undermine the peace initiative. But the US representative argued that the resolution was "consistent" with the US-Russian initiative.

The resolution reiterated its call for a political transition, which it said represented "the best opportunity to resolve the situation... peacefully".

The resolution also expressed outrage at the "rapidly increasing death toll", and strongly condemned the Syrian government's use of heavy weapons and the "widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms".

The text called for urgent financial support to neighbouring countries, which are hosting 1.5 million refugees, and highlighted the "dire situation" of the 4.25 million internally displaced people.

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