Envoys: Russia may not veto UN council draft on Syria

West and Arab League amend Syria draft to reassure Russia; most UN council members support new draft, envoys say; if Moscow votes for resolution, it will likely be adopted unanimously.

February 3, 2012 16:53
2 minute read.
United Nations Security Council

United Nations Security Council 311 (R). (photo credit: Mike Segar / Reuters)


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UNITED NATIONS, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Moscow may agree not to veto the latest version of a European-Arab draft resolution endorsing an Arab League plan for Syrian President Bashar Assad to give up power when the UN Security Council votes on it, envoys said on Friday.

"I think Moscow will be OK with it," a council diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "We're not 100 percent sure but I think they've gotten the assurances they wanted."

Morocco circulated an amended draft resolution to the 15-nation council on Thursday after Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told a closed-door session of the 15-nation body Moscow would veto the draft if it were put to a vote on Friday with a phrase saying the council "fully supports" an Arab League plan calling for Syria's president to step aside, diplomats said.

That phrase remains in the text. But several diplomats said Churkin's threat of a veto had more to do with the timing than the substance of the resolution and predicted that the Russians likely would abstain or vote for the resolution.

"He made the threat but I don't think he'll necessarily have to follow through with it," a diplomat said on condition of anonymity. "We included some new language that Russia wanted."

Morocco's UN envoy, Mohammed Loulichki, told reporters after Thursday's inconclusive council meeting he would seek a vote on the amended draft resolution as soon as possible. French Ambassador Gerard Araud said the council may vote on the resolution as early as on Friday or Saturday.

The council will meet to discuss the latest draft later on Friday.

A senior US official declined to predict what the final vote would be but said the majority of the council would vote in favor of it. "We are cautiously optimistic that we will have a very strong show of support for this resolution," the official said.

Moscow received the new draft resolution overnight and the government was expected to make a decision on whether or not to veto it in the course of the day, diplomats said.

If Moscow votes for the resolution, it likely will be adopted unanimously, as China, South Africa, India and Pakistan are expected to follow Moscow's lead, UN envoys said. An abstention from Moscow would allow the resolution to pass, although it would register a certain level of disapproval.

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