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  Politics
UNSC members closer to agreement on revised Syria draft text
02/02/2012   |   09:47 AM | World News
تصغير الخطالشكل الأساسيتكبير الخط
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 2 (KUNA) -- UN Security Council members, including Russia, said late Wednesday they made progress in examining an Arab-European draft resolution that would support the Arab League peace plan regarding the crisis in Syria, but conceded that "a lot of difficult issues" persist, even though a number of major amendments were introduced to allay Russia's concerns.
The detailed Arab League plan, which mainly requires President Bashar Al-Assad to hand over power to a deputy, and which was spelled out in the old draft resolution, has now been deleted from the new text at Russia's request.
The new version, obtained by KUNA, simply says the Council "fully supports the League of Arab States' 22 January 2012 decision to facilitate a political transition leading to a democratic, plural political system, "including through commencing a serious political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition under the Arab League's auspices, in accordance with the timetable set out by the League of Arab States." Also deleted from the new text is the "grave concern at the continued transfer of weapons into Syria which fuels the violence" and the call on Member States "to take necessary steps to prevent such flow of arms." Russia, the biggest supplier of weapons to Syria, wanted that paragraph deleted.
The new text would "note" Syria's "announced commitments" to reform, and "regret" the lack of progress in implementing those reforms.
"Emphasizing the need to resolve the current crisis in Syria peacefully, and stressing that nothing in this resolution compels states to resort to the use of force or the threat of force" has been replaced in the new text with "emphasizing its (Council's) intention to resolve the current political crisis in Syria peacefully without foreign military intervention," again to please Russia.
The new text would also note Russia's offer to host a meeting between the Syrian Government and the opposition in Moscow, in consultation with the Arab League.
It now decides to "review implementation" of this resolution, without mentioning Syria by name, within 21 days, instead of 15 days mentioned in the old version, and "in the event of non-compliance, to consider further measures, in consultation with the Arab League." Following three hours of private talks, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin admitted to reporters that "we did make some progress, actually. We discussed both texts we have on the table, I think we have a much better understanding of what needs to be done for us to reach consensus. So I think it was a pretty good session." The two texts he was referring to are the current Arab-European draft resolution that Moscow has been rejecting, and the Russian draft he introduced to the Council in mid-December and which Council western members rejected as too weak.
US ambassador Susan Rice told reporters everybody is trying to approach this in a "rational way and that in itself is progress." "Today's discussions were conducted in a constructive and role-up-your sleeves manner. If that can continue, then there is a possibility that we will reach agreement. But there is no certainty. These are tough issues and there are issues of interest and principle that still divide the council so it is really too soon to know," she said.
"We have more work to do. It's way too soon in my judgment to know whether ultimately there will be agreement, but I think people are in the spirit of rolling up their sleeves and trying to get to work in a serious manner," she added.
She stressed that all of the changes that were discussed were in the context of reaching an "overall package. So none of them were taken in isolation." British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters "we've made some progress today and clearly there is desire to try and get a text that can be adopted in the next two days. But there are a lot of difficult issues and we are not there yet. So negotiations are going to continue tomorrow (today)." He conceded that the language about the political transition in Syria is among the difficult issues the members are discussing. "For us the most fundamental part of this text has always been supporting the Arab League initiative and that is our bedrock, bottom line and that is what the purpose of the text is and we will insist it is in the final version," adding that the sponsors are still looking for a vote this week. (end) sj.mt KUNA 020947 Feb 12NNNN
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