West demands changes to Russia's Syria UN resolution

16th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

France on Friday attacked Russia's proposed UN Security Council resolution on the Syria crisis as "totally unbalanced" and no immediate talks were called on the measure.

Russia, having blocked UN action on Syria for months, surprised other members of the 15-nation council on Thursday by putting forward a draft resolution which condemns the violence by all sides in Syria.

The UN says President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on opposition protests has left 5,000 dead.

Russia and China vetoed a European resolution on Syria in October. Western nations say the new Russia text is not tough enough on the Damascus government, but they are ready to negotiate with Russia.

France's UN envoy Gerard Araud called the Russian text a "maneuvre."

Russia "gives the appearance of movement while presenting a text which is totally unbalanced and which is empty," he said in a live internet chat session with French newspaper Le Monde.

But he stressed that France and other European nations wanted negotiations.

Russia called hasty Security Council on Thursday to discuss the resolution which strongly condemns violence by "all parties, including disproportionate use of force by Syrian authorities."

It also raises concern over "the illegal supply of weapons to the armed groups in Syria," according to a copy obtained by AFP.

European diplomats said there has to be stronger condemnation of rights violations by the Assad government and stronger support for Arab League action against Syria, including its sanctions.

Western nations said they were waiting for follow up talks, but Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said his delegation would not be calling for negotiations before Monday.

"It will take time for (western nations) to absorb the significance of the developments," Churkin told reporters, referring to the initial negative comments on the Russian text.

"It is perhaps telling that the Russians have not called follow up talks if this is such an important move," one western diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Araud said it was uncertain how long negotiations could take.

"Negotiations on a resolution can take a few hours or a few months. Everything depends on the desire of the Russians to accept our amendments," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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