U.S. says Russia's U.N. text amendments unacceptable

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 04, 2012 10:59 AM

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said on Saturday that proposed Russian amendments to a draft Security Council resolution endorsing an Arab League plan for Syria could not be accepted.

"They are unacceptable," Rice told reporters as she went into closed-door council consultations on Syria.

The council had originally scheduled an open meeting for Saturday to vote on the draft. But Russia, still dissatisfied with the text, requested that the 15-nation body not immediately do so and instead hold consultations.

Western diplomats said they were still looking for a vote on Saturday on the draft, which supports an Arab League plan for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down following an 11-month uprising against his rule.

"We are determined to vote today," France's U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters.

The changes proposed by Russia, seen by Reuters, would introduce language assigning blame to Syria's opposition, as well as the government, for violence in which the United Nations says more than 5,000 people have died.

Western nations reject the idea of equal blame, saying the government is mainly responsible.

Araud said the existing text clearly supported the Arab League plan. "We are not going to move from that," he said, adding that the Russians "just want to gain time."

It was not immediately clear how long the closed consultations would last.

Western diplomats said they did not know whether Russia would vote for the draft, abstain or veto it if it came to a vote on Saturday.

(Reporting By Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Vicki Allen)