UN Council Meeting Saturday To Consider Syria

Published February 4, 2012 1:27AM (EST)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council will meet Saturday morning to take up a much-negotiated resolution on Syria, said a diplomat for a Western nation that sits on the council.

The diplomat spoke Friday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be quoted by the press.

The confirmation came after the U.N. announced the meeting to news correspondents, then sent out another email asking reporters to "please disregard until further notice" the earlier announcement. The exact hour of the meeting was unclear.

The move toward a vote came after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke by telephone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in an effort to overcome Russian opposition to any statement that explicitly calls for regime change or a military intervention in Syria.

The movement at the U.N. came as Syrian forces used tanks and machine-guns to kill at least 200 people and wound hundreds in Homs in an offensive that appeared to be the bloodiest episode in the nearly 11-month-old uprising, activists said early Saturday. Homs has been one of the main flashpoints of opposition to the regime during the uprising.

The U.S. and its partners have ruled out military action but want the global body to endorse an Arab League plan that calls on Assad to hand power over to Syria's vice president.

Clinton called Lavrov while flying Friday to Munich for a security conference that both are attending, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

He said Clinton and Lavrov agreed to have American and Russian diplomats continue work on a Syria resolution and were planning to meet for more talks in the German city over the weekend.

Russia's deputy foreign minister, Gennady Gatilov, said Friday that Moscow could not support the resolution in its current form. But he expressed optimism that an agreement could be reached, according to state news agency RIA Novosti.

Assad's regime has been intensifying an assault against army defectors and protesters. The U.N. said weeks ago that more than 5,400 people have been killed in violence since March. Hundreds more have been killed since that tally was announced.

By Salon Staff

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