* Russia, China have vetoed two resolutions on Syria
* Annan urged UN council to support his peace efforts
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS, March 19 France will submit to
the Security Council on Monday a Western-drafted statement
supporting U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's peace efforts in
Syria and sending a strong message to Damascus to end violence
against protesters, diplomats said.
The decision to prepare a "presidential statement" for the
15-nation council comes after Russia and China twice vetoed
binding resolutions that condemned Syria's yearlong assault on
demonstrators opposed to President Bashar al-Assad that the
United Nations says has killed over 8,000 civilians.
"The main focus is to build common ground, support Annan's
efforts and send a clear message to Damascus," a U.N. diplomat
told Reuters on condition of anonymity. France plans to
circulate the draft to council members later on Monday at the
end of a closed-door meeting on unrelated matters, envoys said.
Annan on Friday urged the Security Council to overcome its
deadlock and unify in support of his efforts to end the
violence, which has brought Syria to the brink of civil war,
council diplomats said.
Addressing a closed-door meeting of the 15-nation council
via video link, Annan said the tougher the council's message in
support of his efforts to negotiate a ceasefire, the greater his
chances of ending the fighting, envoys said.
Annan said he wanted the council to approve a statement of
support as soon as possible, envoys said.
It was not clear when the Western-drafted presidential
statement, which is read out by the president of the Security
Council and recorded in official U.N. records, could be
approved. Diplomats said they hoped to get it through the
council as soon as possible.
Unlike resolutions, which are legally binding and need nine
votes in favor and no vetoes from the five permanent council
members to pass, statements are generally non-binding but
require unanimous support from the council.
The latest draft presidential statement, which is supported
by France, Britain, Germany, Portugal and the United States, is
separate from a U.S.-drafted resolution calling on Syria to
allow access to humanitarian aid workers in Syria.
Negotiations on the U.S. draft have stalled while Annan
works to persuade Assad and the Syrian opposition to agree to a
ceasefire, diplomats said. Russia and China say the West and
Gulf Arabs seek Libya-style regime change in Syria, which Moscow
and Beijing oppose.
The last time the council passed a presidential statement on
Syria was August 2011, although council members reached a rare
unanimous agreement on informal remarks to the press earlier
this month to rebuke Damascus for not allowing U.N. humanitarian
aid chief Valerie Amos into the country.[ID: nL2E8E1B2A]
Shortly after the council approved those remarks to the
press, Amos was allowed to visit Damascus.