Bloomberg News

Europe, Russia Move Toward UN Security Council Accord on Syria

September 28, 2011

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Europeans in the United Nations Security Council moved toward agreement today with Russia and China on a resolution to increase pressure on Syria to halt repression of anti-government protesters.

“I think we are very close,” Ambassador Baso Sangqu of South Africa, a Security Council member, said after a two-hour meeting in New York. “I think something will emerge.”

Envoys of Britain, France, Germany and Portugal said they would circulate a new draft resolution tonight that takes into account Russia’s concerns about their threat to impose sanctions on Syria’s government. Sangqu referred to “automaticity” in the latest European text that is a major sticking point, suggesting that a new version would allow for some flexibility before sanctions are triggered.

The Europeans already had abandoned a measure circulated last month that would have imposed an arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze, replacing it yesterday with a text that “expresses determination” to impose sanctions in the event the violence continues.

“I think it can be done,” Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said of a possible agreement.

The U.S., unhappy with the willingness of the Europeans to soften yesterday’s proposed resolution, wants a meaningful measure in response to the Syrian government crackdown on opposition groups, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said earlier in Washington.

“We want a resolution with teeth,” Nuland said at the daily briefing. “We want a resolution that makes absolutely clear to the Assad regime that the violence has to end.”

International Observers

The U.S. also wants international observers inside Syria to monitor developments. “We need witnesses so we can hold Assad to account,” Nuland said.

Representatives of the 15 Security Council member governments are scheduled to meet tomorrow on what will be the third version of a European draft resolution, with a vote possible as early as Sept. 30.

Al Jazeera reported 17 deaths today in Syria. Earlier, a human rights activist said Syrian security forces had killed at least 76 people in the past five days as part of a crackdown on protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

The protests are part of the wave of unrest across the Middle East and North Africa that unseated governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Assad’s crackdown has left more than 3,600 civilians dead, according to Ammar Qurabi of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria. About 30,000 people have been detained and 13,000 are still being held, according to Qurabi and Merhi.

--Editors: Jim Rubin, Mark McQuillan.

To contact the reporters on this story: Nicole Gaouette in Washington at ngaouette@bloomberg.net Bill Varner at the United Nations at wvarner@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Terry Atlas at tatlas@bloomberg.net


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