Middle East News
France's Juppe doubtful of chances of UN breakthrough on Syria
Jan 31, 2012, 10:17 GMT
Paris - French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe expressed doubt Tuesday that Western powers would be able to win Russia over to a draft UN resolution calling on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
Speaking to Europe 1 radio before leaving for a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York, Juppe said the 11-month conflict in Syria, which the UN estimates has killed over 5,400 people, was 'a real scandal.'
But he was doubtful that Russia could be persuaded to support the latest Western-backed resolution, which was drafted on the basis of on an Arab League peace plan.
'Alas, I'm not sure,' he said when asked whether the text had a chance of succeeding.
'We're blocked by a number of countries, mainly Russia, which opposes every resolution (on Syria),' he said.
The conflict pitting Assad's regime against demonstrators and rebels seeking his ouster has escalated sharply in recent days, with government troops trying to fight back rebels on the outskirts of Damascus.
The draft resolution submitted by Morocco Monday calls for an immediate end to the violence and for al-Assad to hand power to a transitional government led by his vice president as a precursor to negotiations with the opposition.
Besides Juppe, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and British Foreign Secretary William Hague will also travel to New York Tuesday to try convince the 15-nation council to back the text.
France's Le Figaro daily quoted French diplomats as saying 10 of 15 council members were in favour.
But Russia, which has long supported al-Assad's regime and which, together with China barred a resolution on Syria last year, has threatened to reuse its veto.
On Monday, Russia invited the Syrian government and opposition to hold talks in Moscow - an offer the opposition rejected.
Read more about UN