France says Russia “less negative” on Syria UN resolution

Russia has a "less negative" attitude towards a UN Security Council resolution demanding an end to bloodshed in Syria that has now killed 6,000 people, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Wednesday.

"For the first time, the attitude of Russia and the BRICS [China, India and South Africa on the Security Council] is less negative," Juppe told MPs, also announcing a death toll of 6,000 since the uprising began in mid-March.

The previous toll, from the UN, was 5,400 killed, but activists say hundreds more have died in recent clashes between President Bashar al-Assad's security forces and rebel fighters of the Free Syrian Army.

"We have unfortunately until today been blocked at the Security Council by Russia's veto threat and the hostility of what are known as the BRICS," Juppe said, briefing ministers on his return from the UN in New York.

"So we will work relentlessly in the coming days to try to agree a resolution that will allow the Arab League to put all its efforts into finding a solution. A window of hope has opened," Juppe said.

Russia has been obstructing a Security Council resolution condemning the deadly crackdown, saying any vote needs more time, despite Western powers and the Arab League demanding immediate UN action.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, backed by her French and British counterparts and Qatar's premier, led the charge on Tuesday for a tough UN resolution that would call on Assad to end the bloodshed and hand over power.

Russia, a longstanding ally of Assad and one of the regime's top suppliers of weapons, has said that the UN body does not have the authority to impose such a resolution. China has voiced support for Russia's position.

Juppe said the overall death toll was 6,000, including 384 children, according to UNICEF, as well as 15,000 prisoners in regime jails and 15,000 refugees who have fled the country.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon

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