Russia, China join UN council in call for Syria peace
New York: The UN Security Council, including Russia and China, has agreed to a statement on Syria that backs UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan`s bid to end violence that has brought the country to the brink of civil war, council diplomats said on Wednesday.
The statement also threatens Syria with "further steps" if it fails to comply with Annan`s six-point peace proposal, which calls for a cease-fire, political dialogue between the government and opposition, and full access for aid agencies.
The "presidential statement," which Western powers diluted on Tuesday in an effort to ensure Russian support, was due to be formally adopted by the 15-nation UN Security Council later on Wednesday morning.
The Western push for the statement from the council backing Annan`s mission comes after Russia and China twice vetoed resolutions condemning Syria`s yearlong assault on demonstrators opposed to President Bashar al-Assad. The United Nations says over 8,000 civilians have been killed in the crackdown.
Western envoys said Russian backing for the UN statement would be a diplomatic blow for Moscow`s ally Assad.
Unlike resolutions, which are legally binding and need nine votes in favor and no vetoes from the five permanent council members to pass, statements are generally non-binding but require unanimous support from the council.
The latest draft presidential statement is separate from a US-drafted resolution calling on Syria to allow access to humanitarian aid workers in the country.
The last time the council passed a presidential statement on Syria was August 2011, although council members reached a rare unanimous agreement on informal remarks to the press on March 1 to rebuke Damascus for not allowing UN humanitarian aid chief Valerie Amos into the country.
Shortly after the council approved those remarks to the press, Amos was allowed to visit Damascus.