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Russian FM: 2 major issues remain with UN Syria resolution that need resolving
MUNICH (AP) ' Russia's foreign minister says he still sees two major problems with a draft U.N. resolution on the violence in Syria.
Sergey Lavrov said at a security conference in Germany on Saturday that the latest version of the resolution resolves "quite a number of things which were important to us." But he added: "It still has basically two things which we would like to modify but they are of crucial importance."
Lavrov asserted that the resolution makes too few demands of armed groups opposing President Bashar Assad's regime. He also said Moscow remains concerned about whether it prejudges the outcome of a national dialogue among political forces in Syria.
Lavrov is expected to meet with U.N. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the sidelines of the conference later in the day.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
MOSCOW (AP) ' Russia's foreign minister sternly warned Washington Saturday that any attempt to put a draft resolution on Syria to vote at the United Nations would lead to "scandal," a blunt warning that Moscow is prepared to use its veto power.
Sergey Lavrov said in an interview broadcast on Russian state television Rossiya that Moscow had submitted its amendments to the Western-backed draft. He said that Russia hopes that "bias will not prevail over common sense."
"If they want another scandal at the U.N. Security Council, we wouldn't be able to stop them," Lavrov said, voicing hope that Washington wouldn't put the draft to vote.
The U.N. Security Council is expected to meet Saturday morning to take up a Syria resolution.
Russia and China, which wield veto power at the Security Council, have blocked previous Western attempts to impose sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime over its crackdown on protests. The U.N. has said that more than 5,400 people have been killed in violence since March. Hundreds more have been killed since that tally was announced, and activists say 200 died in the city of Homs on Saturday.
Russia is opposing any U.N. call for regime change or a military intervention in Syria, its last remaining ally in the region.
The U.S. and its partners have ruled out military action but want the U.N. body to endorse an Arab League plan that calls on Assad to hand power over to Syria's vice president.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with Lavrov by phone on Friday, and was to meet with him later in the day on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. Ahead of that, Clinton told the conference she was hopeful that the U.N. would be able to come to an agreement later in the day:
"As a tyrant in Damascus brutalizes his own people, America and Europe stand shoulder to shoulder. We are united, alongside the Arab League, in demanding an end to the bloodshed and a democratic future for Syria. And we are hopeful that at 10 a.m. Eastern Standard Time in New York the Security Council will express the will of the international community," she said.