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Russia's Syria Resolution 'Unacceptable,' France Says

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MEDVEDEV
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev winks as he leaves a joint press conference on December 15, 2011, following a summit with European Union leaders at the EU Headquarters in Brussels. (GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images) | Getty Images

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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)

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