A revised draft of a UN Security Council resolution aimed at ending violence in Syria has omitted several key demands. In a concession to Russia the resolution no longer calls on Syrian President Assad to step down.
A new draft resolution on Syria submitted to the UN Security Council left out several major demands made previously by European Union members and the Arab League, diplomats said on Thursday.
In a concession to Russia, which has vowed to veto any "unacceptable proposal," the document no longer calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. It also no longer specifically refers to the formation of a national unity government in Damascus.
However, the document does state that the 15-member Security Council "fully supports" an Arab League plan to "facilitate a political transition leading to a democratic, plural political system."
A final version of the resolution was expected to be ready for a vote as early as Friday, according to Britain's Ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant, and his French counterpart, Gerard Araud. Pakistan's UN Ambassador, Abdullah Hussain Haroon, said the Council was "two words away" from an agreement.
However, Russia said that it would veto any resolution on Friday, saying more time was needed for national governments to deliberate.
The document currently under consideration is an amended version of an earlier resolution circulated by Arab League member Morocco.
"No" to domestic interference
Russia, which is opposed to outside interference in domestic politics, objects to the Arab call for Assad to hand over power to a deputy. Moscow has said that this would amount to a call for "regime change" and that it would veto any such wording. An expression of concern about arms sales to the country, a top market for Russian weapons exports, was removed after objections from Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin.
Syrian troops sealed off public squares in the city of Hama on Thursday after residents poured red paint on the ground to represent the blood of civilians killed in a massacre 30 years ago. Amnesty International estimates that between 10,000 and 25,000 people lost their lives in the 1982 siege in which whole sections of the city were leveled by the regime of Bashar al-Assad's father and predecessor, Hafez al-Assad.
In the current uprising, which began last March, the UN estimates that more than 5,400 people have been killed on both sides of the fighting.
ccp/rc/pfd (AFP, AP, Reuters)