Arabs reject Russian changes for UN assembly Syria draft

UNITED NATIONS - Arab delegations have dismissed as unacceptable Russian amendment aimed at weakening a draft UN General Assembly resolution that backs an Arab plan for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step aside, diplomats said on Wednesday.
"The Arabs have rejected them and they're pushing ahead," a senior Western diplomat said about the Russian amendments to the Arab-drafted plan. Several other diplomats confirmed his remarks, saying the Russian proposals, seen as supporting Moscow's key ally in the Middle East, were unacceptable and would have diluted the resolution's message.
The point of the Saudi-drafted resolution, which Egypt circulated to the assembly on behalf of Arab delegations, is to support the Arab League plan in a way that the Security Council was unable to do as a result of Russia's and China's veto of a similar resolution on Feb. 4, diplomats said.
The draft resolution, which diplomats predict will pass with the support of the vast majority of the 193-nation General Assembly, is also intended to highlight that Russia and China are virtually alone on the issue of Syria's 11-month crackdown on anti-Assad protesters, diplomats said.
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