Western powers step up pressure for UN condemnation of Syria

Syria is Russia`s closest ally in the Middle East. It has a naval base at Tartus in Syria.

United Nations: Western powers on Wednesday
stepped up moves for a UN Security Council vote condemning
Syria`s crackdown on opposition protests, even though Russia
and China remained strongly opposed.

France, Britain and the United States were considering
pressing for a vote by the 15-member Security Council on a
resolution that could embarrass Russia and China by forcing
them into a veto.

"We think that it will be possible to get 11 votes in
favor of the resolution and we`ll see what the Russians will
do," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said late yesterday.

"Obviously events over the weekend and yesterday were
very serious and in our view the Security Council should take
cognizance of that," said Britain`s UN ambassador Mark Lyall

"We are looking at our text to adapt it, obviously, to
recent events and we will be seeing whether there is any shift
among those few countries who have so far been opposing it.

"If as I hope there is some sign of movement we will
be putting it to a vote quickly," Lyall Grant told reporters.

The current draft, drawn up by France, Britain,
Germany and Portugal, condemns the crackdown by President
Bashar al-Assad`s regime and warns that the violence could
constitute crimes against humanity.

Russia and China have strongly opposed the resolution
during expert level talks among Security Council diplomats.
China reaffirmed its opposition today.

"We are concerned about the situation in Syria but we
do not think that involvement of the council will help the
situation there," said China`s UN ambassador Li Baodong.
The five permanent council member countries -- Russia,
Britain, France, the United States and China -- have the power
to veto any resolution.

Juppe, speaking in Washington before a visit to the UN
headquarters today, said that if Russia vetoes, "they will
take their responsibility."

"Maybe if they see that there are 11 votes in favour
of the resolution, they will change their mind. So there is a
risk to take, and we`re ready to take it," Juppe stressed,
noting that he had discussed the moves with US Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton.

"We know that Russia probably would veto any
resolution about Syria, even a mild one as is the text that we
are proposing with the British and the Americans," Juppe

Syria is Russia`s closest ally in the Middle East. It
has a naval base at Tartus in Syria.


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