Russia rejects UN sanctions against Syria
Fri, July 13 2012 12:45 | 14685 Views
United Nations (ANTARA News) - Russia rejected calls for sanctions against Syria on Thursday, while the United States warned the UN mission to the conflict-stricken country should be withdrawn without new measures.
UN Security Council ambassadors held their first talks on rival Russian and Western draft resolutions on Syria with a July 20 deadline for a vote. No progress was reported.
No vote on either of the texts will be held this week, Britain`s UN envoy Mark Lyall Grant told reporters. "There`s still a gap -- and that concerns Chapter VII," said Germany`s ambassador Peter Wittig.
Britain, France, the United States, Germany and Portugal have demanded sanctions under Chapter VII of the UN Charter because of the worsening death toll and President Bashar al-Assad`s failure to follow an international peace plan.
UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has urged the Security Council to impose "consequences" for any failure to implement his floundering peace plan for Syria.
But Russia firmly opposes sanctions. "Anything can be negotiated but we do not negotiate this. This is a red line," Russia`s deputy UN ambassador Igor Pankin said after the first talks among key envoys.
The message was reinforced in Moscow where Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said sanctions were "unacceptable" and would not be allowed.
Russia and China have twice previously used their powers as permanent members of the Security Council to veto resolutions which hinted at sanctions against the Syrian regime, Moscow`s main Middle East ally.
Russia has proposed a resolution which would simply roll over the mandate for the UN Supervision Mission in Syria for another three months.
Western nations want the Security Council to give Assad a 10-day deadline to halt attacks with heavy weapons or else face sanctions. The western resolution proposes only a 45-day renewal of the UN mission.
Diplomats said the United States has warned it could block the renewal of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) if there were no sanctions.
"US ambassador Susan Rice was quite explicit in saying this in the council," during a briefing by Annan on Wednesday, one Security Council diplomat told AFP.
Rice had warned when UNSMIS was created in April that the United States could not guarantee it would agree to a renewal.
UNSMIS was sent to monitor implementation of Annan`s peace plan agreed with Assad. But so far no part of the plan has been carried out and the almost 300-strong contingent of unarmed observers has suspended its patrols.
The United States and its allies say Assad is to blame. Russia says pressure must also be put on the opposition.
Condemning "the Syrian regime`s brutality and its record of broken promises," Rice hinted at the possible blocking of UNSMIS.
UNSMIS "regrettably, is not at present able to do the job that this council mandated it to do because of the regime`s persistent refusal to take the basic steps to halt the violence," she told reporters.
Without "concrete measures" by the Security Council, "it`s not plausible to assume that UNSMIS will be any more able to fulfill its mandate in the future than it is now," she added.
Ambassadors from the 15 council countries will meet again Friday to discuss the two texts.
The Security Council has to pass a resolution by July 20 when the 90-day mandate for UNSMIS ends.
Syrian activists say that more than 17,000 people have died in the 16-month old conflict.
Editor: Ella Syafputri
COPYRIGHT © 2012