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Russia drafts new UN resolution on Syria, meets Syria opposition

Underscoring its central role, Russia met with opposition Syrian National Council in Moscow today to discuss a new proposal.

By Staff writer / July 11, 2012

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (l.) welcomes a delegation headed by a leader of the Syrian National Council (SNC), Abdulbaset Sieda (r.) in Moscow, Wednesday, July 11.

Misha Japaridze/AP

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A meeting between Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and opposition group leaders from the Syrian National Council took place in Moscow today to discuss a new UN resolution drafted by Russia, underscoring the importance of Russia's role in helping to ameliorate the Syrian crisis.

Russia, along with China, has been a firm opponent of international efforts to push Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad out of power. The two powers have twice vetoed UN Security Council resolutions condemning the Assad regime, despite 17 months of conflict between Syrian authorities and the opposition that has claimed close to 17,000 lives. Russia has long stated it won’t support military intervention in the country.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said yesterday that Russia isn’t “clinging” to Mr. Assad, but that Syria should be left to decide his fate, according to Bloomberg News. "We try to move the Syrian opposition figures toward realistic and constructive positions that can help end the bloodshed," Mr. Bogdanov said, according to Ahram Online.

IN PICTURES: Conflict in Syria

Russia’s new draft resolution calls for a three-month extension of the UN mission in Syria, but does not call for sanctions. The US and European members of the Security Council are not likely to be satisfied by this proposal: They have long called for the enactment of Chapter Seven of the UN Charter, which allows for the use of sanctions and military intervention (though US officials say they only want to implement on sanctions).

The Security Council has remained starkly divided throughout the course of the Syrian conflict. The UN mission's 90-day mandate ends on July 20, by which point the Security Council must reach a conclusion as to its future before then, according to the Guardian.

Though Russia is not expected to publicly abandon its support for Assad, the Syrian National Council traveled to Moscow in an effort to convince Russia to reconsider its support for the Syrian leader. Russia “is one of the fundamental countries for Syria and plays a big role for us,” said Basma Kodmani, a member of the SNC leadership, according to Russian media outlet RIA Novosti. Ms. Kodmani said the SNC hopes Russia can help “to turn the page of the old regime and transform to the new democratic order,” reports RIA.

“We are discussing a political mechanism for the solution of the Syrian crisis that was proposed by the Arab League and this mechanism should be adopted by the UN Security Council,” [Kodmani] told a news conference in Moscow, adding that SNC is against “the talks with the ruling authorities,” but favors “talks for the implementation of this mechanism under the UN supervision.”

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