Russia Predicts Long Syria Debate in UN Security Council

Sharply-divided members of the Security Council are seeking to hammer out a compromise resolution on the situation in Syria.

A planned United Nations Security Council debate on Syria is likely to last for days as sharply-divided members seek to hammer out a compromise resolution, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry officials said Wednesday.

"There is not going to be any vote at all in the coming days," Russia's Interfax news agency quoted deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov as saying.

UN Security Council - AP - January 13, 2010

"There are two draft resolutions being discussed, the Russian one and one put forward by Morocco," he said. "The Moroccan draft is unacceptable because it contains language calling for sanctions against Syria and which could be interpreted as allowing the use of

The Russian draft calls on the Syrian regime and the opposition to hold talks to form a new coalition government, and to abstain from further violence.

The draft resolution submitted by Morocco calls for an immediate end to the violence and for President Bashar Assad to hand power to a transitional government led by his vice president as a precursor to negotiations with the opposition.

Russian officials have repeatedly stated that any UN Security Council resolution on Syria permitting an international military intervention in the country would be vetoed.

Work on a compromise resolution on Syria is in progress, but it is not possible to predict when both sides would agree on a draft, Gatilov said.

Kremlin critics have said Moscow's unwillingness to support hard sanctions or military intervention against Syria plays to the advantage of the Assad regime, whose army and police - armed with Russian weapons - are vastly better-armed than Syria's opposition.

"Russia bears a heavy responsibility for allowing the brutal crackdown on legitimate dissent in Syria to continue unchecked," said Jose Luis Diaz, Amnesty International's representative to the UN in New York, in a statement.

More than 2,600 people have been killed in Syria since Russia, along with a group of Security Council members, blocked an October resolution to end violence in the country, the statement said.