United Nations: France took over the presidency of the UN Security Council on Sunday playing a central role in the international campaign against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The 15-nation council could not agree on a statement condemning the violence in Syria and is increasingly divided over the Libya issue, with Russia, China and India blocking new sanctions against Gaddafi’s entourage, diplomats said.

Russia believes that air attacks by France, Britain, the United States and their allies are going beyond UN Security Council resolutions.

Divisions could come to the forefront again this week when International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo briefs the council on Wednesday on a possible war crimes investigation.

UN special diplomat to Libya, Abdul Ilah Khatib, the former Jordanian foreign minister, is also to hold talks with the council this week on his efforts to bring Gaddafi and rebel leaders closer to a ceasefire.

France is a key military leader in the international coalition patrolling the no-fly zone over Libya. French President Nicolas admitted this week he did not know how long the conflict would last now.

And that will make life more difficult for France's UN ambassador Gerard Araud who also wants to use the month to bring more forgotten crises such as Democratic Republic of Congo back to the front of the council agenda.

An open debate on the country where millions have died in conflict since 1998 will be held on May 18. The United Nations now wants to draw down its biggest peacekeeping force -- about 20,000 troops -- in the country and turn more toward nation-building.

"It will be the most important moment of the month," Araud said in an interview.

"It is a subject that is no longer on the front pages, but it is the kind of topic which forms the basis of the dignity of the United Nations," he said highlighting the work of the global body in DR Congo.

Security Council ambassadors are also due to visit Africa at the end of May.

They would go to Nairobi, to discuss the Somalia conflict and the transitional government's efforts, and to the southern and northern Sudan capitals, Juba and Khartoum.

(Agencies)