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Russia, China veto UN resolution on Syria

Russia and China on Saturday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for Syrian President Bashar Assad. The other 13 members of the council, including the US, Britain, and France, voted in favor of the resolution aimed at stopping the ongoing violence in Syria.

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Before the vote, President Barack Obama urged the council to take a stand against Assad's regime and back the resolution.

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"The international community must work to protect the Syrian people from this abhorrent brutality," Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.

In a blistering statement, Obama said Assad had displayed "disdain for human life and dignity" following the weekend attacks in Homs.

"The Syrian regime's policy of maintaining power by terrorizing its people only indicates its inherent weakness and inevitable collapse," Obama said. "Assad has no right to lead Syria, and has lost all legitimacy with his people and the international community."

To the Syrian people, Obama pledged U.S. support and vowed to work with them to build a better future in their country.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met Saturday with Lavrov on the sidelines of the security conference to stress that the United States strongly believes the council should vote on the resolution Saturday, a senior State Department official said.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said they had a "very vigorous discussion."

In an interview broadcast earlier Saturday on Russian state television, Lavrov had warned that Moscow would use its veto power if several amendments it had submitted were not included in the European-Arab draft of the resolution.

"If they want another scandal at the U.N. Security Council, we wouldn't be able to stop them," Lavrov said, voicing hope that Washington wouldn't put the draft to a vote without Russia's amendments.

"The scandal is not to act. The scandal would be to fail to act," Wittig, the German ambassador, said before Saturday's session.

Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov upon his return to Moscow later Saturday as saying that the amendments were not "excessive" and that consensus on the resolution remained possible "if our colleagues show a constructive approach."

But U.S. Ambassador Rice told reporters as she headed into the council session that Russia's proposed amendments were "unacceptable."

Foreign Minister Alain Juppe of France, a firm backer of U.N. action and also a permanent Security Council member, said the latest outbreak of violence in Syria "underlines the urgency that the U.N. Security Council must break its silence to denounce the authors of this crime."

"The international community must recognize and support the right of the Syrian people to freedom, to security and to the choice of its political future," Juppe said. "Those who block the adoption of such a resolution are taking a grave historical responsibility."

Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Geir Molson in Munich and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

The Monitor's Weekly News Quiz for Jan. 27-Feb. 3, 2012

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