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Syria veto shames UN, says Hague

Russia and China have faced international outrage for blocking attempts to end the violence in Syria as 22 people were arrested and two police officers injured in London protests.

Foreign Secretary William Hague accused the two countries of encouraging further bloodshed after they vetoed a resolution in what he said marked "an hour of shame" for the United Nations.

Intense diplomatic efforts failed to secure their support for an Arab League-backed plan for President Bashar Assad to relinquish power and allow democratic elections. The setback came as the brutal crackdown by Damascus against pro-democracy protesters reached new extremes, with more than 200 reported killed in a bombardment of the southern city of Homs.

News of the bloodshed stoked the passions of around 150 missile-throwing protesters who gathered at Syria's embassy in central London on Saturday to demand the expulsion of its ambassador.

Riot police were forced to defend the building after several demonstrators burst in and two officers required hospital treatment for injuries. Scotland Yard said there were a total of 22 arrests - 21 on suspicion of public order offences including entering the embassy, and another on suspicion of assaulting a police officer.

The angry scenes in central London were mirrored in cities across Europe and the Middle East - including Libya and Tunisia where Arab Spring uprisings have already succeeded in removing regimes. Tunisia announced that it would withdraw its recognition of Assad's leadership and expel the Syrian ambassador.

However the Homs bombardment, the bloodiest episode so far in the 11-month battle between Assad and pro-democracy protesters, did not unlock a diplomatic stand-off over UN action.

The use of the veto - after Western countries tried to call Russia's bluff by pressing ahead with a vote despite Moscow expressing concerns - was met with bitter international condemnation. Mr Hague said the twin veto was "an hour of shame" for the UN and that Russia and China had sided with the regime over the people of Syria and the Arab League.

"Their approach lets the Syrian people down, and will only encourage President Assad's brutal regime to increase the killing, as it has done in Homs over the past 24 hours," he said.

The draft resolution, tabled by Morocco, did not impose sanctions or open the door to military action and contained nothing that warranted opposition, he said. It repeated conditions set down by Arab League foreign ministers last month for a Syrian-led political transition in which Assad would delegate his powers to a deputy.


From Belfast Telegraph