Russia calls for UN Syria resolution without sanctions

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Russia on Friday proposed a UN Security Council resolution on Syria that would omit Western calls to sanction President Bashar al-Assad for his deadly crackdown on opposition protests, diplomats said.

Signaling an intensifying Security Council battle on how to act over Syria, a European-US resolution calling for sanctions and a Russia draft which only calls on Assad to implement reforms were officially put forward Friday for a potential vote.

Britain, France, Germany, Portugal and the United States drew up their sanctions resolution earlier this week but Russia and China have refused to attend informal talks on the document.

Russia has hinted that it could veto any sanctions resolution put to a vote.

Russia's rival resolution "calls upon the Syrian government to expedite the implementation of reforms in order to effectively address the legtimate aspirations and concerns of the Syria's people," according to a copy obtained by AFP.

But it also "urges the Syrian opposition to engage in political dialogue" with the Assad government on reforms.

Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the proposed resolution already had "strong support" from some nations on the 15-member council.

© 2011 AFP

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