2012-01-30 / Front Page

Efforts intensify for U.N. resolution

Syrian issue


British and French foreign ministers are heading to New York today to bolster Arab League efforts to press for a United Nations resolution aimed at halting Syria’s violent crackdown on antiregime protests.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe both confirmed they would attend U.N. talks scheduled for Tuesday.

Officials hope that Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim and Arab League officials, who will also attend, can help persuade Russia and China to back away from their opposition to a U. N. Security Council resolution.

Russia has insisted that it won’t support any resolution which could enable foreign military intervention in Syria.

Today, it said Syria’s government has agreed to come to Moscow for talks with the country’s opposition representatives in. It was not immediately clear if Syria’s opposition representatives would agree to such talks, but in the past they have said that an end to violence was their precondition for a meeting.

The French Foreign Ministry said Juppe would travel to New York “to convince the Security Council to assume its responsibilities in the face of the worsening of crimes against humanity by the Syrian regime.”

In London, British Prime Minister David Cameron’s office urged Moscow to reconsider its stance. “Russia can no longer explain blocking the U.N. and providing cover for the regime’s brutal repression,” a spokeswoman for Cameron said, on customary condition of anonymity in line with policy.

The U.N. estimates about 5,400 people have been killed in 10 months of violence.

Talks on Tuesday are scheduled to focus on a draft resolution based on an Arab League peace plan. That plan calls for a two-month transition to a unity government in Syria.

A British official, who requested anonymity to discuss negotiations on a resolution, said the U.N. would seek to approve a resolution calling for progress on halting the crisis.

The Security Council will threaten possible sanctions in no progress is made within two weeks, the official said.

However, the text would stress there are no plans for any military intervention in Syria — though the option would not be explicitly, or permanently, ruled out, the official said.

An Arab League official said Sunday that contacts were under way with China and Russia.

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