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Russia ready to review UN mission format in Syria but insists it must stay

August 03, 2012, 2:33 UTC+3

According to the Russian diplomat, Western delegations to the United Nations Security Council have driven themselves into a corner

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UNITED NATIONS, August 3 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia is ready to review the format of the United Nations observer mission in Syria but categorically opposes its dissolution favoured by a number of Western countries, Russian United Nations ambassador Vitaly Churkin told journalists on Thursday after a meeting of the United Nations Security Council that heard a report by U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous.

“I told the U.N. Under-Secretary-General that we were waiting for the proposals the U.N. Secretary-General was to present about the further presence of the United Nations in Syria,” Churkin said and added that he hoped that a military observer component would be in place.

According to the Russian diplomat, Western delegations to the United Nations Security Council have driven themselves into a corner. “They have already said that the mission should end. Now they are unable to say what is the underlying strategy,” Churkin stressed. “In order to give our Western colleagues an opportunity to keep face we are ready to change the mission’s name, to change its format, or to review approaches to its work, but it must be in place in all its observer components – both military and humanitarian.”

Churkin noted that the determination of Western countries to end the observer mission in Syria is another evidence of their non-constructive approach to the conflict settlement. “Regrettably, to my mind, it is another evidence of an utterly non-constructive approach and it proves that they keep to their stance on the change of the regime by force methods. This policy cannot but entail catastrophic consequences. This is the essence of the fight that has been going on for these months at the United Nations Security Council,” Churkin stressed. In his words, the U.N. observer mission is useful even in the current difficult situation in Syria. “We think that the mission is playing a useful role. If we assume that the international community continues efforts to stop violence and reach a political settlement, it must continue its work,” Churkin said. “First, it makes it possible to have more objective information about what is going on there; second, in some cases it helps to get a clear picture of this or that situation; third, it has ties both with the government and the opposition.”

Delegations from Western countries “are growing ever more obstinate saying that the mission must be ended,” he noted.

On July 20, the mandate of the United Nations observer mission in Syria was prolonged for another 30 days. The mission’s further existence will depend on the progress the Syrian government and the opposition might reach in the fulfillment of their commitments to reduce violence in the country. The United Nations Secretary General however admitted on Thursday that the situation was still deteriorating. "I remain convinced that yet more bloodshed is not the answer; each day of it will only make the solution more difficult while bringing deeper suffering to the country and greater peril to the region," Ban said. French ambassador Gerard Araud, who holds the council's rotating presidency, said the U.N. observer mission would end on August 19. In his words, the mission has exhausted its potential ans it is highly unlikely that its mandate would be further extended.

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