United Nations — The Security Council began closed-door negotiations Friday on a new Arab-European draft resolution aimed at resolving the crisis in Syria, but Russia’s envoy said he could not back the current language as it stands.
Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters afterward that the text introduced by new Arab Security Council member Morocco has “red lines” for Moscow, but he’s willing to “engage” with the resolution’s sponsors.
Churkin said those lines include any indication of sanctions, including an arms embargo. “We need to concentrate on establishing political dialogue,” he said.
British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant later insisted that the text based on the Arab League’s recent recommendations for Syria contains no mention of an arms embargo or any other sanctions, and that it received broad support from other council members. “A lot of straw men are being put up,” he said.
“We want, as do the Arabs, an unanimous resolution,” Lyall Grant said. “Frankly, the time has come where we should be supporting the Arab League efforts.”
The U.N. says at least 5,400 people have been killed in a monthslong Syrian government crackdown on civilian protests.
European diplomats have been meeting this week with diplomats from Arab countries, including Morocco and Qatar, on a resolution that would strongly back an Arab League bid to end the crisis.
French Ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters he expected that a “very determined negotiation process” on the text would start at the ambassador level on Wednesday, one day after the Arab League secretary-general and Qatar’s prime minister brief the council on the situation in Syria.
“There is now a chance that the Security Council will finally take a clear stand on Syria. That is long overdue,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Friday at the General Affairs Council in Brussels. The comments were provided by the German mission to journalists at the U.N.
“We hope now that council members will seize this new window of opportunity and find common ground,” German Ambassador Peter Wittig said before the council met behind closed doors.
Permanent council members Russia and China used their veto powers last fall to block an earlier European resolution on Syria. On Friday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov was quoted by the ITAR-Tass news agency as saying Moscow will oppose the new draft U.N. resolution on Syria because it fails to take Kremlin’s concerns into account.