MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s foreign minister on Tuesday said Moscow is ready to seek consensus in the UN Security Council on a new resolution aimed at ending Syria’s civil war, but gave no indication how it would resolve a disagreement over a Britain-sponsored resolution.
Moscow’s draft resolution calls for the “immediate implementation” of a peace plan from Kofi Annan, the UN and Arab League envoy for the crisis, and the guidelines for a political transition approved at a meeting in Geneva last month, but it objects to the resolution that would be tied to Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, which could allow the use of force to end the conflict in Syria.
Although Western nations appear to have little appetite for force, Russia adamantly opposes any prospect of international intervention in the 16-month-old conflict. China, another veto-wielding member of the Security Council, also has backed Syria.
After a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Annan on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, “I don’t see a reason that we couldn’t agree in the Security Council. We are prepared for that,” according to the Interfax news agency.
Annan, in turn, said, “I would hope that the Council will continue its discussions and hopefully find language that will pull everybody together for us to move forward on this critical issue.”
There were no comments from Putin after the meeting, but at its opening he promised Russia would do all it could to support Annan.
Russia, which incurred international criticism by twice vetoing UN resolutions to increase pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad and his regime, has staked its position on Annan’s six-point plan for ending the fighting that activists say has killed some 17,000 people.
The plan was to begin with a cease-fire between government forces and rebels, followed by political dialogue, but increasingly intense fighting has called into question whether the plan is obsolete.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague insisted Tuesday that a Chapter 7 resolution is required to implement Annan’s peace plan, calling the process the “best hope” for ending the civil war in Syria and urging Russia and China to get on board.
“Those nations that might block a Security Council resolution have to consider the fact that if they do so, they will be held increasingly responsible for the consequences, for that chaos and bloodshed that are even now becoming worse in Syria,” he said during a trip to Jordan in which he visited a camp for Syrian refugees.
Meanwhile, UN leader Ban Ki-moon arrived in Beijing on Tuesday as part of a diplomatic push to get Russia and China to back a tougher response to attacks by the Assad regime.
Ban, who is to meet Wednesday with Chinese President Hu Jintao, called for rapid, unified action by the Security Council. But a commentary that ran Tuesday in the official People’s Daily newspaper strongly opposed using force against Syria — a sign that China may again block the Western-backed resolution.
“Sovereign equality and noninterference in internal affairs (of other countries) is a red line that must not be crossed,” the commentary said. “A political solution is the only way out of the Syrian problem.”
Syria’s violence has grown increasingly bloody and chaotic in recent months as the uprising which began in March 2011 has transformed from a peaceful protest movement seeking political change into an armed insurgency seeking to topple Assad’s regime.
Hague cautioned that the situation in Syria “is so grave and unpredictable that I don’t think any option should be ruled out for the future.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press