Russians reject latest U.N. measure on Syria
REPORTING FROM WASHINGTON -- Russia on Friday rejected the latest United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a new government in Syria, complicating the efforts of Arab and Western nations to draft a strong U.N. statement that might help end bloody fighting in the Arab nation.
Backers of an Arab League-devised plan had hopes after two days of Security Council negotiations that Moscow might endorse the resolution. But Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said in Moscow that changes added this week to water down the resolution were “not enough for us,” the official Interfax news service reported.
The resolution would give the Security Council's support to the Arab League plan, which calls on Syrian President Bashar Assad to turn over power to a deputy who would organize a democratic transition.
The resolution’s backers believe Moscow's support would send a strong signal to Assad that he has lost even the backing of one of his most important allies as the death toll in his government's months-long crackdown on dissent rises to nearly 6,000.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is to discuss the resolution Saturday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a high-level international meeting in Munich, Germany. Diplomats said a council vote could come soon, perhaps as early as this weekend.
Some backers of the measure say they are prepared to demand a Security Council vote on the resolution even in the face of a likely Russian veto, saying it would only underscore Moscow’s isolation on the issue.
Gatilov did not detail Russia’s objections to the language. But diplomats said Moscow has made it clear that it does not want the resolution to say that the council “strongly supports” the Arab League plan.
-- Paul Richter
Photo: A Syrian girl at a protest in the Syrian city of Homs on Friday. Credit: AFP / Getty Images