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UN urged to back Syria resolution

Western and Arab nations have launched a major diplomatic offensive at the UN in hope of overcoming Russia's opposition to a resolution demanding that Syrian president Bashar Assad relinquishes power.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the British and French foreign ministers travelled to New York on Tuesday for the Security Council session on the deteriorating security situation in Syria.

Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabr Al Thani, Qatar's prime minister, opened the discussion by saying that the international community needs to get involved.

"Realising the hopes of the Syrian people is in your hands," Sheikh Hamad told council members, asking them to adopt the resolution which is based on the Arab League's peace plan for the country. "It is part of your responsibility under the (UN) charter."

He said the resolution outlined "a political and democratic solution to the crisis aimed at achieving a peaceful transition and turnover of power".

Nabil Elaraby, the chief of the Arab League, told the council that the league wants the Security Council to act "to support our initiative and not to take its place".

"We are attempting to avoid any foreign intervention, particularly military intervention" in Syria, he said. "We have always stressed full respect of the security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian people."

Russia, a veto-wielding permanent member of the council, has objected to the draft, which is backed by Western and some Arab powers. Russia's deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov has claimed that the resolution is a "path to civil war".

But supporters of the draft point out it says specifically that "nothing... compels states to resort to the use of force or the threat of force".

An actual vote on the resolution is considered unlikely until later this week.

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