Russia's Syria Resolution 'Unacceptable,' France Says
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PARIS, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Russia's draft U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria is unacceptable to France in its current form, but Moscow's recognition that the body must react to the bloodshed is a positive step, France's Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
Russia unexpectedly presented a new, beefed-up draft resolution on the violence in Syria to the security council on Thursday. Western envoys said the text was too weak even though it expanded and toughened previous Russian drafts.
Both Russia and China vetoed a European draft resolution in October that contained a threat of sanctions.
"For France, it is a positive development that Russia has decided to recognise that the serious deterioration of the situation in Syria merits a Security Council resolution," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told a news briefing.
The U.N. human rights chief said on Monday the death toll in Syria's nine-month crackdown on protesters against Presidenit Bashar al-Assad now exceeded 5,000. Navi Pillay also urged the council to refer the case to the International Criminal Court.
Describing the blockage in the security council as scandalous, Valero said the U.N. should quickly adopt a resolution condemning crimes against humanity in Syria and supporting a credible, political solution.
"It (France) is ready to work with all of its partners, but it underlines that the Russian text has elements that are not acceptable in their current form," Valero said. "It's in particular unacceptable to put the Syrian regime's repression on the same level as the Syrian people's resistance."
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said on Thursday Russia did not believe both sides in Syria were equally responsible for the bloodshed and noted that the new draft called on both sides to halt the violence.
Valero said the Russian text was a basis for negotiations on a resolution, although much had to be ironed out.
"Obviously, if a text puts the repression of the Damascus regime, which has caused more than 5,000 deaths, on the same level of people protesting in the streets there is a lot of work to do," he said.
"Secondly, what is important to us is the condemnation of the crimes against humanity," Valero said, adding that a resolution should seek international support for ending the violence and finding a political solution to the crisis.
France's ambassador to the United Nations also criticised the Russian draft.
"The Russians who vetoed our Oct. 4 resolution felt their blind defense of Assad's regime couldn't last any longer," said the envoy, Gerard Araud, in an interview to appear in Saturday's Le Parisien newspaper.
"They therefore ceded, and presented a draft. Frankly, it's totally unacceptable." (Reporting by Leigh Thomas; editing by Geert De Clercq and Alistair Lyon)