* Russia says Saudi-drafted Syria resolution unbalanced
* Says text encourages Syrian opposition to more violence
* West, Arab states accuse Russia of backing Assad
* Annan says to quit his international role on Syria
By Gabriela Baczynska
MOSCOW, Aug 2 Russia said on Thursday it would
not back a Saudi-drafted resolution on Syria at the U.N. General
Assembly, saying the document was unbalanced and would encourage
rebels to keep fighting the government of President Bashar
The assembly was due to vote on Friday on the non-binding
resolution, which criticises the U.N. Security Council for
failing to take action on Syria, after a vote planned for
Thursday was postponed to make time for negotiations on proposed
The latest draft was toned down by removing language
explicitly backing Arab League calls for Assad to resign and
Western diplomats said they hoped that would raise the
number of votes in favour of the resolution to at least 100,
although they said many other countries were likely to abstain.
But a Russian Foreign Ministry statement called the
resolution "one-sided and unbalanced" and said Moscow would not
support it in its current form.
Russia said the draft placed "full responsibility for what
is happening in the country ... solely on the Syrian
authorities" while leaving the opposition "outside the
boundaries of the international community's demands."
"In this way, it encourages (the opposition's) line of
uncompromising armed fight against the Syrian government," the
foreign ministry statement added.
Russia, which says both sides of the conflict must cease
violence simultaneously, has shielded Assad's government from
increased international pressure by vetoing three U.N. Security
Council resolutions backed by Western and Arab states.
The draft resolution would have the General Assembly --
where no country holds veto powers -- "deploring" the Security
Council's failure to take steps against Damascus.
Moscow and Beijing were expected to vote against the
document, diplomats said, as they did with a similar General
Assembly resolution in February.
In the latest sign that the outlook for diplomatic solution
for Syria was bleak, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan
said on Thursday he would step down as the U.N.-Arab League
mediator in the 17-month-old Syria conflict at the end of