2 Feb 2012

Russian UN veto threat

8:35 am on 2 February 2012

Russia has signalled it will veto a draft United Nations resolution calling on President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to step down unless the draft explicitly rules out military intervention.

Arab and Western states have urged the UN Security Council to act swiftly on a resolution calling for Mr Assad to delegate powers to his deputy and defuse the uprising against his rule.

Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin on Wednesday voiced strong reservations.

He argued that no part of the UN charter could dictate ''what king needs to resign or what prime minister needs to step down''.

But he said he had ''found some of the elements'' of an earlier Russian draft resolution on Syria in the current text ''and that gives rise for hope''.

''We hope that the council will come to consensus on the Syrian issue,'' he added.

On Wednesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told the Interfax news agency there would be no vote ''in the next days''.