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Russia ready to seek consensus in UN on new resolution aimed at ending Syria's civil war
MOSCOW (AP) ¯¯¯ Russia's foreign minister on Tuesday said Moscow is ready to seek consensus in the UN Security Council on a new resolution aimed at ending Syria's civil war, but gave no indication how it would resolve a disagreement over a Britain-sponsored resolution.
Moscow's draft resolution calls for the "immediate implementation" of a peace plan from Kofi Annan, the UN and Arab League envoy for the crisis, and the guidelines for a political transition approved at a meeting in Geneva last month, but it objects to the resolution that would be tied to Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, which could allow the use of force to end the conflict in Syria.
Although Western nations appear to have little appetite for force, Russia adamantly opposes any prospect of international intervention in the 16-month-old conflict.
But after a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Annan on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said "I don't see a reason that we couldn't agree in the Security Council. We are prepared for that," according to the Interfax news agency.
Annan in turn said "I would hope that the Council will continue its discussions and hopefully find language that will pull everybody together for us to move forward on this critical issue."
There were no comments from Putin after the meeting, but at its opening he promised Russia would do all it could to support Annan.
Russia, which incurred international criticism by twice vetoing UN resolutions to increase pressure on President Bashar Assad and his regime, has staked its position on Annan's six-point plan for ending the fighting that activists say has killed some 17,000 people.
The plan was to begin with a cease-fire between government forces and rebels, followed by political dialogue, but increasingly intense fighting has called into question whether the plan is obsolete.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Tuesday that implementing Annan's peace plan is the "best hope" for ending the civil war in Syria.
He also insisted that a Chapter 7 resolution is required to implement the plan and urged Russia and China to get on board.
"Those nations that might block a Security Council resolution have to consider the fact that if they do so, they will be held increasingly responsible for the consequences, for that chaos and bloodshed that are even now becoming worse in Syria," he said of Russia and China, who are standing by Assad's regime.
He acknowledged differences with both nations on enforcing the Annan plan. "We do have a disagreement about the need to enforce or require the implementation" of Chapter 7, which could allow the use of force.
"There's a difference," he said after visiting with Syrian refugees at the northern frontier.
"I hope that in Moscow and Beijing, they will take greater note of the scale of the bloodshed, the need to bring it to an end and the desperate situation of the sort of people that we met at the Syrian border today."
Syria's violence has grown increasingly bloody and chaotic in recent months as the uprising which began in March 2011 has transformed from a peaceful protest movement seeking political change into an armed insurgency seeking to topple Assad's regime by force.
The U.S. and many Western nations have called on Assad to leave power, while Russia, China and Iran continue to support him.
Hague cautioned that the situation in Syria "is so grave and unpredictable that I don't think any option should be ruled out for the future."
He said the first article in Annan's six-point plan, which is to immediately halt violence, has not taken effect.
"This process is the best hope of averting even greater chaos and bloodshed in Syria in the weeks and months to come," he added in a joint news conference with his Jordanian counterpart, Nasser Judeh.
Dale Gavlak in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report.