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(Updates with comments from ministry spokesman in 7th paragraph.)
Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Russia vowed to block any United Nations Security Council resolution that calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to relinquish power.
Such demands “will simply never get approval,” Alexander Lukashevich, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said by telephone from Moscow today. “This should be a matter for dialogue between the Syrians themselves and shouldn’t be imposed through a resolution.”
Arab and Western nations are seeking to pass a UN resolution supporting the Arab League’s call for Assad to step down and facilitate a peaceful transfer of power. Russia, as a permanent Security Council member, can veto any resolution.
Qatar, the U.K. and the U.S. are among countries seeking to overcome Russian opposition to a change of regime in Syria, where at least 5,000 people have been killed in the past 10 months during the crackdown on anti-government unrest, according to the UN. Russia in October vetoed by a bid at the UN by the European Union and the U.S. to condemn Assad and threaten sanctions, arguing he needed time to implement promised political changes
On Jan. 23, Syria rejected an Arab League proposal to form a national unity government within two months to implement a peaceful handover of power, describing it as a violation of its sovereignty.
The latest UN resolution proposal “condemns the continued and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms” by Syrian authorities and calls for Assad to implement Arab League resolutions for a “political transition,” according to a copy of the document obtained by Bloomberg.
The Arab League, which has monitors in Syria, “should be facilitating dialogue” between Assad and his opponents rather than trying to impose a solution, Lukashevich said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday his country wouldn’t back UN decisions that endorsed unilateral sanctions by Arab and Western states or opened the way for foreign armed intervention in Syria.
Russia has been wary of any UN-backed use of military action, such as the operation that eventually helped topple Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.
The U.S. has criticized Russia for blocking sanctions against Syria and supplying weaponry to its Soviet-era ally. Syria received a shipment of Russian ammunition this month and has also signed a $550 million deal for 26 Yak-130 jet trainer aircraft, according to the Kommersant newspaper.
--Editors: Jennifer M. Freedman, Louis Meixler
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