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Russia Threatens to Veto UN Resolution on Syria

Russia threatens to veto a UN Security Council resolution on Syria, even after it was watered down to please the Russians.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/3/2012, 5:13 AM

Russia has threatened to veto a UN Security Council resolution on Syria if it is put to a vote on Friday, the BBC reports.

According to the report, Russian officials said they need more time to consult Moscow on the draft text of the resolution, which has already been watered down in an attempt to overcome Russian objections.

The Security Council first met on Tuesday to debate whether to adopt a draft resolution on Syria which calls for President Bashar Assad to step down.

The resolution is based on the Arab League’s plan for Syria which instructs Assad to delegate powers to his vice president following the formation of a national unity government.

The League’s plan calls for the unity government to prepare to elect a council, within three months, that will write a constitution. It should also prepare for parliamentary and presidential elections.

Russia, however, rejected the resolution’s call on Assad to step down, saying the plan amounts to regime change and could lead to civil war.

According to the BBC, the resolution’s new text drops calls for Assad to hand over power. Despite the change in the language, diplomats told the British network, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin announced his country would veto the resolution at a closed-door meeting of the council.

Human rights groups and activists say more than 7,000 people have been killed by Syrian security forces since the uprising began in March, according to the BBC report.

The UN said last week it had stopped estimating the death toll in Syria, adding it was too difficult to confirm.