Arabs, West seek to avert veto of UN Syria draft

Drafters of UNSC resolution to stop Syria's bloody upheaval revise their text in a last-ditch effort to avoid a Russian veto.

United Nations Security Council 311 (R) (photo credit: Mike Segar / Reuters)
United Nations Security Council 311 (R)
(photo credit: Mike Segar / Reuters)
UNITED NATIONS - Arab and Western drafters of a UN Security Council resolution aimed at stopping Syria's bloody upheaval revised their text on Thursday in a last-ditch effort to avoid a Russian veto, though the new draft includes language Moscow has rejected.
Morocco circulated the slightly amended draft to the 15-nation council 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, Western 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 thought it might be possible to persuade the Russians to 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. It's still possible to avoid a (Russian) veto."
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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."
US Ambassador Susan Rice was cautious in her remarks after the council session. "We had what I would characterize as sometimes difficult but ultimately useful discussions," she told reporters. "We're still working. This is not done."