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UN General Assembly to vote Thursday on Syria

Update: February, 15/2012 - 11:53

UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations General Assembly will vote on Thursday on a new resolution calling on Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to put a stop to deadly attacks on civilians, diplomats said.

The resolution drawn up by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which was given to member nations on Tuesday, also expresses support for the Arab League's plan to end the 11-month crackdown in Syria and calls for the naming of a UN special envoy.

The move comes after Russia and China vetoed a second Security Council resolution on the crisis in Syria on February 4, because they said it was "unbalanced."

Russia and China are expected to oppose the new text but no one can veto resolutions in the 193-nation General Assembly, though they carry less weight. Diplomats said the measure was almost sure to pass.

The vote is expected on Thursday at 3pm (2000 GMT).

"We'll see if this new text earns more or less than the 133 votes given to the first resolution" adopted on December 19, one diplomat said.

The draft resolution does not refer to an Arab League request for a joint peacekeeping mission with the United Nations, which has been met in some Western capitals with caution.

The Security Council has yet to adopt any resolutions on the situation in Syria. Russia and China also vetoed a draft in October.

The General Assembly draft is similar to the one blocked in the Council.

The text "fully supports" the Arab League's plan "to facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system," without however mentioning Assad by name or the plan for him to hand over power.

It "calls upon the Syrian government to immediately put an end to all human rights violations and attacks against civilians" and "condemns all violence, irrespective of where it comes from."

The text calls on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to back the Arab League by appointing a special envoy to Syria, and "stresses the need to resolve the current political crisis in Syria peacefully."AFP

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