France, others ready to risk veto on Syria: Juppe

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2011 (AFP) - France and other western powers are ready to risk a veto by Russia at the United Nations over a draft resolution to condemn political violence in Syria, France's top diplomat said Monday.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, on a visit to Washington, said of the 15-member UN Security Council: "We think that it will be possible to get eleven votes in favor of the resolution and we'll see what the Russians will do."

The draft was drawn up by France, Britain, Germany and Portugal. It condemns violence at the hands of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and asks him to open Syrian cities to humanitarian teams.

The five permanent council member countries -- Russia, Britain, France, the United States and China -- have veto power.

Juppe, speaking in English at the Brookings Institute, told diplomats and analysts that "if they veto, they will take their responsibility."

"Maybe if they see that there are eleven votes in favor of the resolution, they will change their mind. So there is a risk to take, and we're ready to take it," Juppe stressed, noting that he had discussed the situation with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"We know that Russia probably would veto any resolution about Syria, even a mild one as is the text that we are proposing with the British and the Americans," Juppe added.

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