Russia calls latest UN Syria resolution 'unacceptable'

4th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia on Tuesday called the latest draft of a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Syrian crackdown "unacceptable" despite last-minute changes that removed a direct reference to sanctions.

"The text that Western nations are planning to put up for a vote is clearly unacceptable," Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told the Interfax news agency.

European nations were expected to seek a vote later Tuesday on a resolution imposing "targeted measures" against President Bashar al-Assad's regime for a crackdown that has killed 2,700 according to UN estimates.

Russia had initially proposed its own resolution that simply called for more dialogue and then began pressing Western powers to water down the language in their draft.

The current proposal would impose sanctions if Assad failed to comply within 30 days with instructions to end violence and impose reforms.

Western powers said they would press ahead with the vote despite no initial reaction to the new draft from Russia and Gatilov indicated that Moscow felt the threat of sanctions was still too strong.

"It is unacceptable because it keeps the prospect of imposing sanctions on Syria," Gatilov said.

Russia had treated the unrest gripping its old regional ally as an internal matter that could only be exacerbated by Western military intervention or sanctions targeting Assad at the expense of the opposition.

Gatilov expressed particular regret that the European draft "lacks a provision on non-interference in the affairs (of another nation) and the inadmissibility of outside intervention."

The deputy foreign minister also repeated Russia's preference for a resolution that placed equal pressure on the two sides to engage in direct talks.

"Unfortunately, quite a few things there do not suit us and not all of our complaints were taken into account," said Gatilov.

The Europeans and Russia fundamentally disagree over whether the opposition violence in Syria should be given the same weight as the government crackdown.

Europe insists that any resolution should put more stress on Assad's action.

But Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has linked some in the opposition to "terrorists" who threaten to destabilise much of the Middle East.

© 2011 AFP

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