Russia, Europeans seek compromise UN Syria draft

Latest attempt to bridge wide differences comes after months of resistance by "BRICS" bloc to tough UN action against Syria.

UN Security Council_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
UN Security Council_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
UNITED NATIONS - Russia and Western powers on the UN Security Council voiced hope on Wednesday that they would soon have a resolution on Syria that calls for an end to violence without demanding immediate sanctions.
The latest attempt to bridge the wide differences between Russia, China, Brazil, India and South Africa - the "BRICS" countries - and the United States and European members of the council comes after months of resistance by the BRICS bloc of emerging market nations to tough UN action against Syria.
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"If the council indeed is unified in the need to find a political outcome and stop the violence in Syria, then we should be able to have a common ground," Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters after a closed-door Security Council meeting on Syria.
"The main thing is not to lose sight of those two objectives - stop the violence immediately and put in (motion) a political process which would lead to reforms and which would lead to a satisfactory situation of the people of Syria."
Churkin said earlier on Wednesday that he had circulated his own draft among the 14 other members of the Security Council, an updated version of a bland earlier Russian text that expressed concern over the six-month crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators the UN says has killed 2,700.
The latest Western draft, circulated on Tuesday by Britain, France, Germany and Portugal, was aimed at breaking a deadlock on the Security Council over Syria caused by the sharp differences between the BRICS and Western council members.
It includes the threat of sanctions if the government of President Bashar Assad does not halt military operations against civilians but drops previous calls in a European and US draft submitted last month to the council for immediate sanctions against Assad, members of his family and associates.

That draft resolution was never voted on because of fierce opposition from the BRICS.
Western envoys had hoped that dropping calls for immediate sanctions while keeping relatively tough language would be enough to secure the support of the BRICS for their new draft. But Moscow was not impressed.
Churkin rejected the European draft circulated on Tuesday, saying its approach to the issue was "encouraging violence in Syria" and advocating a "clear policy of regime change."
He later softened his criticism, saying that efforts to merge the Russian and European texts were promising.