The United States is drawing up a new draft UN Security Council resolution on Syria demanding humanitarian access to protest cities where thousands have been killed, diplomats said Tuesday.
If put to a vote it would be the third time Western nations have tried to get a Security Council resolution on the 11 month old crisis.
Britain, France and Germany, with Arab support, took the lead on the last two resolutions, which were vetoed by Russia and China.
“This resolution will concentrate on humanitarian access to the cities, but it will indicate that the government is the cause of the crisis,” one diplomat said.
“At the moment there are just tentative contacts on the resolution,” another Security Council diplomat said, confirming work on the outline. “It has not been sent to the whole council and we don’t know when this will happen.”
The United Nations says that more than 7,500 people have been killed in Syria since the eruption nearly one year ago of popular protests against the Assad family’s 40-year reign.
Western nations hope that focusing on the humanitarian crisis will persuade Russia and China not to use their powers as permanent members of the 15-member council to veto any resolution.
The two powers blocked the last two attempts, saying the resolutions were aimed only at overthrowing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Tuesday that a resolution on a “humanitarian ceasefire and access for humanitarian aid” was under discussion at the Council.
“I solemnly appeal to Russia and China that they do not block this new resolution at the Security Council,” Juppe said at the French national assembly.
French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said the text calls for a halt to violence and “immediate, unhindered access for humanitarian aid to the most threatened sites and the most vulnerable populations.”
The earlier resolutions had specifically sought to condemn Assad for the violence and had hinted at further action, which had hardened opposition by Russia and China.
On Wednesday, China state media reported that Beijing has told the Arab League international humanitarian aid should be allowed into Syria.
“The international community should create favourable conditions in this regard and provide humanitarian aid to Syria,” the state Xinhua news agency said, quoting remarks by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi during telephone talks with Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi.
Yang, who also held talks with his counterparts in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Algeria this week, called for the fighting to stop and for the international community to provide humanitarian aid, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Work on the new draft started after the Friends of Syria meeting in Tunis last week, diplomats said. Western and Arab foreign ministers attended the meeting but Russia and China stayed away.
Following the last veto, on February 5, the UN General Assembly passed a virtually identical resolution to the blocked Security Council draft. But the nonbinding assembly vote carried less weight than that of the council.