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US proposes new Syria resolution
US proposes new Syria resolution demanding end to violence by government, then by opposition
By The Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) ' The United States proposed a new Security Council resolution Tuesday, demanding an end to the violence in Syria, first by government forces and then by opposition fighters in hopes of overcoming opposition from Russia and China.

The draft resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, was discussed behind closed doors by the five permanent council members ' the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France ' and Morocco, the Arab representative on the council.

Russia and China have vetoed two council resolutions saying they were unbalanced and only demanded that the government stop attacks, not the opposition. Moscow, which has taken the lead, accused Western powers of fueling the conflict by backing the rebels.

The new draft tries to take a more balanced approach in an effort to get Russia and China on board, but it was unclear if the new language would be sufficient to satisfy them. Western supporters of a U.N. resolution don't want to formally introduce the U.S. draft if it's going to face a third veto.

Tuesday's elections in Russia, which returned Vladimir Putin to the presidency, dampened hopes Moscow would soften its stance on Syria.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov defended his country's position on Syria, its closest Mideast ally, and told reporters in Moscow on Tuesday that the council should "seek compromise, stimulate negotiations and a political process."

After Tuesday's closed discussion of the U.S. draft, Russia's U.N. ambassador had no comment. China's U.N. Ambassador Li Baodong, asked about a new resolution, said "we are still working on that."

Morocco's U.N. envoy Mohammed Loulichki called the atmosphere "promising," but added that no date has been set for another meeting on the draft.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared more downbeat, saying: "I don't think you should expect anything specific."

The U.S. draft demands that the Syrian government comply with the Arab League plan of action adopted Nov. 2 and immediately cease all violence, release all detainees, and return all Syrian military and armed forces to their original barracks.

Immediately after these measures are implemented, the draft resolution calls on "the armed elements of the Syrian opposition to refrain from all violence." This "call" is weaker than the "demand" on the government.

The U.S. draft condemns human rights violations by the Syrian government and without a similar condemnation of opposition attacks.

It also mentions past Arab League decisions, which include demands that Assad hand over power to his vice president.

The draft welcomes the appointment of former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan as the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy "as part of the continuing efforts aimed at immediately bringing an end to all violence and human rights violations, and promoting a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis." It asks Annan to work with the Syrian government, other parties in Syria and other countries to fully implement the resolution.

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