Europe drop sanctions in new Syria resolution

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Europe drop sanctions in new Syria resolution

European powers have dropped demands for immediate sanctions against Syria’s president in a new UN resolution sent to Security Council members.

By (AFP)

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Published: Wed 28 Sep 2011, 9:14 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:43 AM

Aiming to overcome Russian and Chinese opposition to council action, the new resolution drawn up by Britain, France, Germany and Portugal, with US backing, threatens sanctions if the deadly Syrian crackdown does not end.

The first talks on the resolution were scheduled for Wednesday and the European countries hope to move to a vote in coming days, diplomats said.

The Security Council would strongly condemn ‘the continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities’ and demand ‘an immediate end to all violence,’ according to a copy of the draft resolution obtained by AFP.

The UN body ‘expresses its determination, in the event that Syria has not complied with this resolution, to adopt targeted measures, including sanctions,’ the draft adds.

The resolution stresses the need for a ‘Syrian-led political process’ to end the crisis and regrets President Bashar Al Assad’s failure to follow through on promised reforms. It would call for the naming of a special UN envoy on Syria.

European nations hope to speed up the debate on a response to President Bashar Al Assad’s clampdown which the UN says has cost more than 2,700 lives.

If passed the the resolution would be ‘sending a warning to Syria,’ said France’s UN ambassador Gerard Araud.

Russia and China have threatened to veto any sanctions resolution brought to the 15-nation council, which has so far only agreed one statement on the crackdown since mid-March. Brazil, India and South Africa have also expressed opposition.

US officials said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed the action with China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in New York on Monday.

France’s Araud said his country would have preferred sanctions and many non-diplomats might consider the resolution ‘weak’ and ‘meaningless’ after more than six months of deaths in the crackdown.

‘But in our world it will be a significant first step. It will be the first time there has been a resolution against Syria and it will be talking about sanctions,’ Araud said at a public meeting in New York.

The envoy said the Syria was entirely different from Libya where the Security Council approved military action to protect civilians — even though Russia and China now say the NATO airstrikes went beyond the UN resolutions.

Arab League and African support played a key role in getting the Libya resolutions passed. Araud said Arab states have been ‘quite silent’ about Syria until recently.

‘Nobody knows what will happen in the region afer the collapse of the region. Nobody knows. So the Arab states have been quite cautious,’ he said.

Araud added that talk of sanctions was ‘touching a nerve with Russia,’ which is a key ally of Syria.

‘We have never referred to any use of force. We simply wanted sanctions,’ the French envoy said of the months of talks at the council.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has accused Assad of breaking promises to start reforms, again called for an end to the crackdown in a meeting with Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem at the UN headquarters on Tuesday.

‘The secretary general reiterated his call for an end to violence and for a genuine process to fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the people for comprehensive political change,’ said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky.

Giving Syria’s speech to the UN General Assembly on Monday, Muallem said Western nations were seeking to ‘dismember’ Syria.

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