5 Oct 2011

China, Russia veto UN resolution on Syria

6:30 pm on 5 October 2011

China and Russia have vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Syria over its crackdown on anti-government protesters.

The European-drafted resolution - drafted by France with the co-operation of Britain, Germany and Portugal - had been watered down to try to avoid the vetoes, dropping a direct reference to sanctions against Damascus.

But Moscow and Beijing said the draft contained no provision against outside military intervention in Syria. As two of the five permanent Security Council members, they have veto power.

The BBC's correspondent in New York says the result is a huge blow to European and United States efforts on the Syria issue.

More than 2700 people have been killed across Syria since the crackdown began in March, the UN estimates.

The government of President Bashar al-Assad says it is in the process of introducing reforms and is speaking to members of the opposition. It blames the unrest on armed gangs.

Nine countries backed the resolution in the 15-member council, while four more abstained.

China says it believes that under the current circumstances sanctions or the threat of them do not help resolve the question of Syria - "rather, it may further complicate the situation"

Russia says the draft was based on the "philosophy of confrontation" and the threat of an ultimatum of sanctions against the Syrian authorities was "unacceptable".