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Russia will not back UN resolution on Syria

(AFP) / 30 January 2012

MOSCOW — Russia will not back a new draft resolution on Syria, its deputy foreign minister said Monday ahead of the UN Security Council’s debate over the latest Western-backed proposal.

“The current Western draft has not gone too far from the October version, and, certainly, cannot be supported by us,” Gennady Gatilov told Interfax news agency in an interview.

“The draft has statements in it calling on the member states to stop arms deliveries to Syria,” he said.

“But there is no clear line between arms contraband that some countries engage in to support extremist forces in Syria, and the legal military-technical ties with this country,” he said.

Gatilov said Moscow wanted any Security Council resolution on Syria to include “our fundamental guidelines: inadmissibility of violence..., appeal to the authorities and opposition to begin dialogue, unacceptability of foreign armed intervention... and an imposition or threat of sanctions.

“It is not in our political practice to bargain over issues of principal importance,” Gatilov said.

Russia, which has resisted Western calls to back UN sanctions against Syria, had suggested to both President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the opposition that they should meet in Moscow for “informal contacts” without any preconditions.

Russia and China placed a rare double veto on the first draft resolution last year, which placed the blame for the violence directly on Assad.

Since then, violence has intensified, killing over 5,400 people in total, with 80 dead in clashes on Sunday alone.

Moscow still maintains close ties with the secular regime in Damascus that were cultivated under Assad’s father and strongman predecessor Hafez al-Assad. It has a naval base in the country and supplies arms.

European and Arab nations on Friday pressed for UN Security Council backing for an Arab League plan calling on Assad to stand down, but Russia said their proposed resolution crossed its “red lines.”

Russia has repeatedly condemned the West for what it says is a one-sided approach on Syria and said that both the opposition and the Assad regime are equally to blame for the violence.

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