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UN could drop 'Assad quit' call

UN Security Council ambassadors are considering a revised resolution aimed at stopping the bloodshed in Syria that removes an explicit reference to President Bashar Assad stepping aside.

The latest draft still expresses support for the Arab League's January 22 peace plan for Syria.

The plan calls for Assad to delegate his authority to his deputy.

But in an apparent effort to overcome Russian objections, the new version of the resolution no longer includes the explicit reference to Assad delegating his powers.

It also removes the explicit call for a new national unity government and for transparent, free elections.

The ambassadors were discussing the latest version behind closed doors.

Russian officials have said they will oppose the resolution if it contains any hint of a military intervention or regime change in Syria, a major ally.

Earlier Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that a change in the current language calling for Assad to step aside "would make it easier for us" to approve.

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has stressed that it was important for the council to move quickly. "Every member of the council has to make a decision, whose side are you on? Are you on the side of the Syrian people ... or are you on the side of a brutal dictatorial regime?" she said.

The UN said several weeks ago that at least 5,400 people have been killed in the 10-month-old government crackdown on a civilian uprising. Russia and China used a double veto in October to block an earlier security council resolution condemning the violence in Syria.


From Belfast Telegraph