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UN Envoy To Syria Proposed By Russia

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UN ENVOY SYRIA RUSSIA
Russian representative Vitaly Churkin delivers remarks during a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly to discuss the human rights situation in Syria at United Nations headquarters on Monday, Feb. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow) | AP

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia on Tuesday urged the United Nations to send a special envoy to Syria to help coordinate security issues and the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Twitter Tuesday that it's proposing that the U.N. Security Council ask the U.N. Secretary General to send the envoy.

On Monday Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the world body should help solve humanitarian issues in Syria, after Damascus allowed the Red Cross to bring humanitarian aid to some regions.

Russia and China have vetoed two Security Council resolutions backing Arab League plans aimed at ending the conflict and condemning President Bashar Assad's crackdown on protests that killed 5,400 in 2011 alone, according to the U.N. Hundreds more have been killed since, activist groups say.

Syria is Russia's last remaining ally in the Middle East. Moscow has maintained close ties with Damascus since the Cold War, when Syria was led by the current leader's father, Hafez Assad.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Tuesday that Moscow will not attend the planned "friends of Syria" meeting at the end of this week, because its organizers had failed to invite representatives of the Syrian government.

Lukashevich said the meeting in Tunisia wouldn't help a dialogue, saying that the global community should act as friends of the entire Syrian people, and not just one part.

"It looks like an attempt to forge some kind of international coalition like it was with the setting-up of a 'contact group' for Libya," Lukashevich said.

Russia has said it will block any U.N. resolution that could pave the way for a replay of what happened in Libya. In that case, Russia abstained from a vote, which cleared the way for months of NATO air force attacks that helped Libyans end Moammar Gadhafi's regime.

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