Russia, China boycott UN Syria sanctions talks

26th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia and China on Thursday boycotted UN Security Council talks on a Western proposal to impose sanctions on Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, diplomats said.

Their absence at the talks signalled the tough negotiations ahead on the move to act against Assad's deadly crackdown on opposition protests, diplomats said.

Ambassadors or their deputies from the 15-nation council were invited to the talks. "The Russian and Chinese seats were empty, there was no one," a council diplomat told AFP.

Russia and China, along with the United States, France and Britain, are permanent members of the council who can veto any resolution.

Russia has strongly spoken out against Syria sanctions, insisting that more time be given to Assad to carry out promised reforms.

Brazil, India and South Africa, non-permanent members of the council, are also believed to have strong reservations about sanctions.

Britain, France, Germany, Portugal and the United States -- the main backers of the sanctions campaign -- hope to sway at least one of the three doubters from the emerging powers.

Their draft resolution calls for sanctions against Assad, his entourage and companies that fund the Syrian government and a total arms embargo.

Assad leads a list of 23 individuals and four entities named in the draft document who would be subject to an asset freeze. The president is however not on the 22-name list for a proposed travel ban.

According to the UN, more than 2,200 civilians have been killed since protests against Assad started in mid-March.

The Security Council has so far only condemned the violence in Syria in a statement agreed on August 3, following months of opposition from China, Russia and their council allies.

© 2011 AFP

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