Topic: Protests in Syria
The observers numbering up to 300 people have been in Syria since May and are to stay there until July 21© AFP 2013/ Str
UNITED NATIONS, July 11 (RIA Novosti)
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Russia has submitted to the UN Security Council a draft resolution proposing that the period of stay for the international observers’ mission in Syria be extended by three months, a deputy Russian envoy to the UN said.
“This draft is not confrontational at all,” Alexander Pankin told Russian journalists on Tuesday. “Its main point is in support of [UN and Arab League special envoy] Kofi Annan’s efforts and agreements reached in Geneva at the action group’s meeting.”
The observers numbering up to 300 people have been in Syria since May and are to stay there until July 21. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week proposed a few options for the mission’s future to the Security Council, including increasing the number of civilian and cutting the number of military observers, as well as changing its function to organization of political dialogue.
Pankin said Russia supports the function change proposal, and added that all partners are welcome to propose amendments to the Russian draft resolution. Western countries are drafting their own resolution with sanctions against Syria.
“Unless we are able to agree, we may see the worst option - cutting UN presence in Syria,” he said.
A spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry denounced the resolution on Wednesday, saying it was “below the expectations” of the global community because it did not propose any hard-hitting sanctions meant to pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into accepting Annan’s settlement plan for Syria.
Earlier, Annan proposed a settlement plan for Syria stipulating a ceasefire between the authorities and the opposition and the start of a political dialogue. On June 30, the Geneva conference of foreign ministers of the "action group," which includes the Western powers, Russia and China, supported the establishment of a "transitional government body with full executive powers" in Syria that would include all sides to the conflict.
Western powers, including the United States, say the Geneva agreement makes it clear to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that he must go.
The UN estimated in May that some 10,000 people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of a revolt against al-Assad in March 2011. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based organization with a network of activists in Syria, revised the death toll to 16,500 on Monday. Of those, some 5,000 were government troops and army defectors, the group said. June had been the bloodiest month of the conflict so far, with around 100 deaths every day, it said.
The UN Security Council has so far failed to find a way to settle the conflict. Russia and China have refused to support any plans for outside interference in Syria, saying both the authorities and the opposition should take measures to stop violence.
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The current contract portfolio of Russian arms exporters is worth about $46 billion. Annual exports total $15 billion, and this will ensure uninterrupted deliveries for the next three years, even in the worst-case scenario. The list of the main buyers of Russian weapons is unlikely to change drastically.