UN council to vote on Syria amid new assault
In an unusual weekend session, European envoys to the UN Security Council said they would vote on a resolution calling for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down. The move came as more than 200 people reportedly were killed in one of the worst episodes of the uprising.
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In a blistering statement, Obama said Assad had displayed "disdain for human life and dignity" following the weekend attacks in Homs.Skip to next paragraph
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"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 made clear during a meeting with Lavrov on the sidelines of the security conference that the United States strongly believes the council should vote during the Saturday session, 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 warned that Moscow is prepared to use its veto power if several amendments it has submitted are not included in the European-Arab draft of the resolution.
"The scandal is not to act. The scandal would be to fail to act," Wittig, Germany's U.N. envoy, said before Saturday's session.
Russia and China have used their veto powers as permanent council members to block previous Western attempts to condemn the violence in Syria.
Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov upon his return to Moscow later Saturday as saying that the amendments are not "excessive" and that consensus on the resolution remained possible "if our colleagues show a constructive approach."
"Colleagues have promised to look again at our amendments," said Lavrov. "We shall wait for New York to wake up and keep working."
But U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters as she headed into the council session that Russia's proposed amendments are "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."