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Top French diplomat says Paris mulls new initiatives against Syria

RIA Novosti

20:20 05/10/2011

PARIS, October 5 (RIA Novosti) - France may ask the UN Security Council to consider new initiatives to put pressure on the Syrian authorities after Russia and China vetoed its previous draft resolution, the French foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Russia and China have used their veto right and blocked a draft UN resolution that threatened sanctions against Syria if President Bashar Assad's government continues to use violence against the opposition in that country.

France has no intention of letting down those fighting for freedom in Syria and does not rule out new initiatives in the UN Security Council, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said.

The draft resolution prepared by the European members of the UN Security Council and supported by the U.S. stipulated that the Assad regime face "targeted measures" if it fails to stop its crackdown on the opposition.

Russia and China vetoed the resolution in the vote on Tuesday and India, South Africa, Brazil and Lebanon abstained. But Juppe said the vetos and abstentions were motivated by the false argument that the resolution would lead to military intervention, as Resolution 1973 on Libya had.

Russia stands firmly against any mention of sanctions, citing the example of Libya, where the NATO countries largely overstepped the UN mandate in a military operation against Muammar Gaddafi's regime.

The Syrian government has used force to crush opposition protests, which followed a wave of uprisings in other Arab countries in spring. The UN says some 2,700 people have died since the start of the protests in March.

The United States, Canada and the EU have already imposed unilateral sanctions on Syria and have called for Assad to step down.

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