United Nations: India on Wednesday abstained from voting while Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that threatened action against Syria if it didn't immediately halt a deadly crackdown on anti-regime protesters.
   
Russia and China, both permanent members of the Security Council, vetoed the European-backed resolution, killing the draft. Apart from India, countries that abstained from voting were Brazil, Lebanon and South Africa.
   
Countries voting in favour of the resolution were Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, France, Gabon, Germany, Nigeria, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the US.
   
The 15 Security Council members have been negotiating different versions of a resolution for more than three months.
   
The draft resolution condemned the violent crackdown by President Bashar Al-Assad's forces against pro-democracy protesters and demanded immediate end to the violence.
   
India's Permanent Representative to the UN Hardeep Singh Puri said that actions of the international community should facilitate an engagement of the Syrian government and the opposition in a "Syrian-led inclusive political process and not complicate the situation by threats of sanctions, regime change.
   
"The resolution under the Council's consideration does not accommodate our concern about threat of sanctions. It does not condemn the violence perpetrated by the Syrian opposition," Singh said.
   
He added that the resolution also did not place any responsibility on the opposition in Syria to abjure violence and engage with the nation's authorities for redressal of their grievances through a peaceful political process.

Rice further said Russia and China vetoed a "vastly watered-down text that doesn't even mention sanctions."    

"Let me be clear: the United States believes it is past time that this Council assume its responsibilities and impose tough, targeted sanctions and an arms embargo on the Assad regime, as we have done domestically.”
   
"During this season of change, the people of the Middle East can now see clearly which nations have chosen to ignore their calls for democracy and instead prop up desperate, cruel dictators."
   
She said even after six months of worldwide outrage over Assad's brutality, the Security Council has not yet passed even a ‘hortatory resolution’ to counter the brutal oppression.
   
"Let there be no doubt: this is not about military intervention. This is not about Libya. That is a cheap ruse by those who would rather sell arms to the Syrian regime than stand with the Syrian people."
   
Puri said in bilateral contacts with the Syrian government as well as through the IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) initiative, India has urged authorities to exercise restraint, abjure violence and pay heed to aspirations of the people.
   
The international community should give ‘time and space’ for the Syrian government to implement the reform measures announced by them.
   
"India recognizes the responsibility of all States to respect the fundamental rights of their people, address their legitimate aspirations and respond to their grievances through administrative, political, economic and other measures," he said.
   
Speaking after vote, Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin said his country did not support Assad's regime but the draft resolution would not promote a peaceful resolution of the crisis.
   
He said the issue was not a question of wording, but "a conflict of political approaches" on how to end the crisis.    

Churkin said majority of Syrians wanted gradual political change, rather than quick regime change, and the text did not adequately take into account the behaviour of extremist groups in opposition to Syrian authorities.
   
China's Ambassador Li Baodong said while his country was highly concerned about the violence in Syria, the text as it stood would only complicate existing tensions.   

The draft was overly focused on exerting pressure on Syria, and included the threat of sanctions, which would not resolve the situation, he added.

Expressed disappointment that the draft resolution had not been adopted, Ambassador Gerard Araud of France said his country and other co-sponsors had made repeated attempts in recent days to alter the text to meet the concerns of other Council members.
   
Araud said opponents of the text were going against the spirit of the Arab Spring movement.   

Addressing the Council, Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari of Syria said the draft resolution reflected the biased attempts of some Western countries to undermine his country’s authorities.
   
He said the legitimate needs and aspirations of the Syrian people had been misused by some domestic groups with the support of foreign elements to provoke external intervention.
   
An estimated 2,700 people have been reportedly killed in Syria since mid-March when the protest movement began, part of a wider uprising across North Africa and the Middle East this year.

(Agencies)