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Can US and Russia cut a deal on Syria action? Both sides to give it a try.

With Russia balking at even a watered down Syria resolution and the Arab League concerned by the UN text's weakening, Hillary Clinton is set to meet with Sergei Lavrov in Germany.

By Staff writer / February 3, 2012

Demonstrators hold the Russia flag with pictures of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, with the late Syria's President Hafez Al Assad, during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad on Friday in the Syrian city of Talbiseh.




United Nations Security Council members contemplated a watered-down resolution on Syria Friday, with Russia balking at any wording that could be construed as support for “regime change” targeting President Bashar al-Assad.

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But with Western powers anxious for some Syria action, and with Arab League supporters unhappy with the changes already made in the text and insisting they will accept no further weakening, prospects were growing for a last-ditch, high-level diplomatic encounter to salvage the resolution.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are set to meet on the margins of the weekend’s annual Munich Security Conference in Germany. The two will meet to discuss the Syria resolution among other issues, State Department officials said. Late Friday the Security Council scheduled a meeting for Saturday, but it was uncertain whether a vote would be taken.

IN PICTURES: The censure of Syria

The US wants a resolution on Syria, and thus the support of the veto-wielding Russia, but it also wants any resolution to contain the international community's demand for a political transition in Syria, officials said.

"We want to see the Security Council speak in a unified and strong fashion in support of the Syrian people," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters in Washington Friday. He said the resolution must inform "the Syrian government that the violence needs to end and a political transition needs to take place."

The week had started with widespread optimism that the Security Council was on the verge of passing something meaningful on Syria, aimed at quelling the country’s escalating violence. But by Thursday, Russian objections had stripped a Morocco-sponsored, Arab-backed resolution of two key elements: a call for Mr. Assad to step down to make way for a caretaker government and elections; and a ban on arms sales to any actor in the Syrian conflict.


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