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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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