Arab League calls for "rapid, decisive action" from UN Security Council on Syria

February 1, 2012 11:02 am 

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 1 — The Arab League on Tuesday called on the UN Security Council to take "rapid and decisive action" to address what the regional body called "the grave and urgent" situation in Syria.

The statement came as Nabil al-Arabi, secretary general of the Arab League, was briefing the 15-nation Security Council on the current situation in Syria.

The Security Council should take "rapid and decisive action" to adopt an Arab-European draft resolution on Syria, al-Arabi said.

The adoption of the draft resolution, opposed by Russia, a veto- wielding permanent member of the Security Council, is "the first priority" of the Arab League, he said.

The Arab League initiative is aimed to immediately stopping all violence and killing against the Syrian people and charting a clear road map which can lead to political transition in the Middle East country.

He said that the Arab countries are trying to avoid foreign intervention, "particularly military intervention," in Syria.

The Security Council met in an open session to hear a briefing from the Arab League on Syria.

Also speaking at the Security Council, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said that Syria's "killing machine is still at work."

"The Arab League is looking forward to the Security Council for the support of the draft resolution, which calls an immediate end to all violence against civilian people in Syria," he said. "I hope the support will give the momentum of the efforts by the League" to bring peace to Syria. The draft resolution, proposed by Morocco on Friday and supported by Western countries, wants the Security Council to back an Arab League plan, which calls on Syrian President Bashar al- Assad to hand over power to his deputy so that new elections can be held.

The United States, France, Germany and Britain asked the Security Council to take urgent actions to address the current situation in Syria. Damascus has accused the foreign and terrorist elements of being behind the months-old turmoil in the Middle East country.

On Monday, the Security Council met behind closed doors to discuss the draft resolution, which was jointly drawn up by Arab states, Britain, France and Germany.

However, Russia, a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, said on Monday that Moscow will not support the new draft resolution on Syria. Moscow is opposed to any proposal for a regime change in Damascus.

"The current Western draft has not gone too far from the October versos, and, certainly, cannot be supported by us," Gennady Gatilov, the deputy foreign minister of Russia told Intefax news agency in Moscow.

In October, Russia, together with China who is also a permanent council member, vetoed the European-drafted resolution on Syria that would have condemned Damascus and threatened it with possible sanctions.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, among other officials, are expected to attend the Tuesday council meeting.

Susan Rice, the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, told reporters here Monday that the participating ministers would not negotiate the draft text.

The vote on the draft resolution is likely by the end of this week, diplomats said here.

A draft resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes to pass. The five permanent council members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — have veto power on the council. (PNA/Xinhua)

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