UN security Council 521.
(photo credit: Reuters)
UNITED NATIONS - Reacting to new bloodshed in Syria, European powers
relaunched a dormant draft UN resolution to condemn Damascus for its
crackdown on protesters, circulating a revised text to the Security
Council at a meeting on Monday.
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Following the hour-long
closed-door meeting, several diplomats said that after months of
deadlock over Syria in the council, the fresh violence appeared to be
pushing the divided members towards some form of reaction.
envoys disagreed over whether the 15-nation body should adopt the
Western-backed draft resolution or negotiate a less binding statement.
requested the meeting after human rights groups said Syrian troops
killed 80 people on Sunday when they stormed the city of Hama to crush
protests amid a five-month-old uprising against Syrian President Bashar
The military offensive continued in Hama on Monday, residents said.
council action on Syria, where rights groups say over 1,600 people have
been killed since the uprising began, has until now been paralyzed by
disagreements among members.
Western European countries first
circulated a draft resolution two months ago but it went nowhere after
Russia and China, both allies of Damascus, threatened to veto it.
Temporary council members Brazil, India, Lebanon and South Africa also
said they did not support it.
Critics have said they fear that
even a simple condemnation could be the first step toward Western
military intervention in Syria, as happened in Libya in March. US
Ambassador Susan Rice described that as a "canard" and said the
resolution contemplated no such thing.
Following a briefing on
Syria by Oscar Fernandez Taranco, deputy head of the UN political
department, all 15 council members spoke but the body took no immediate
action, postponing discussion until Tuesday, diplomats said.
detected a certain convergence of thinking, concern about the escalating
violence," Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, this month's council
president, told reporters. "The members of the council all felt that the
council should address itself to the situation and pronounce itself if
the need be."
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said: "I see some
good ground for reaching agreement among council members to a good
positive reaction from the Security Council." He suggested this could
happen "even tomorrow."
But Churkin said he thought issuing a
resolution was "somewhat excessive" and that a formal statement by the
council president, calling for an end to violence but urging a peaceful
political solution, would be "satisfactory."
Most diplomats have
argued from the outset that a presidential statement, which unlike a
resolution requires unanimity, could never be agreed by Lebanon, which
is under strong Syrian influence. But Churkin said a statement could be
drafted that Lebanon could accept.
One Western diplomat said the Europeans still believed a resolution was
necessary, but another said the format could be decided later. Rice said
she favored a resolution but "we wouldn't preclude anything at this
Earlier, Britain's UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the mood could be
changing following the latest bloodshed in Hama. "I think there are
some indications that positions are shifting," he said, noting that
Russia had issued a statement deploring the latest violence.
South African Ambassador Baso Sangqu described the latest events in
Syria as "terrible" but said he could not spell out his country's
position until he had studied the new draft.
Diplomats said the revised resolution was similar to its predecessor,
updated to take in more recent events, and did not call for sanctions
against Syria or a referral of Syrian leaders to the International
Criminal Court. Those measures were demanded by rights group Amnesty