Feb. 4 - Russia and China veto a U.N. resolution backing an Arab plan calling on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to quit. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
A double veto at the UN on Syria On Saturday Russia and China veto a U.N. resolution backing an Arab League plan calling on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to quit. Supporters of the resolution fear the veto will stall global efforts to end Assad's bloody crackdown on unrest. Russian UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin explains his vote (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) VITALY CHURKIN, RUSSIA'S AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS, SAYING: "The decision of the Security Council should not be won because some influential members of the international community, including those sitting around this table, from the beginning of the Syrian process have been undermining the opportunity for political settlement, calling for a regime change, pushing the opposition towards power, and not stopping provocation and feeding armed methods of struggle." China's UN ambassador Li Baodong also weighed in. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) LI BAODONG, CHINA'S AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS, SAYING: "Like many council members, China maintains that under the current circumstances to put undue emphasis on pressuring the Syrian government, prejudge the result of the dialogue, or impose any solution will not help resolve the Syrian issue, but instead may further complicate the situation." In Syria a family watches the vote. The high-level diplomatic setback comes after world leaders and Syrian opposition activists accused Assad's forces of a massacre in Homs, the bloodiest episode in 11 months of upheaval. Syria's UN ambassador BASHAR JAAFARI denies those charges. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) BASHAR JAAFARI, SYRIA'S AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS, SAYING: "Is there a sensible person who would believe that a given government would commit massacres in a given city on a day when the Security Council is scheduled to hold a meeting to examine the situation in that country? Would any entity put itself in such a position?" On the ground in Damascus Assad's supporters celebrate the UN veto. Demonstrators hold Syrian flags and pictures of Assad and shout slogans to thank Russia and China. The other 13 council members voted for the resolution that would have said the council "fully supports" the League plan aimed at stopping Syria's bloodshed, whose sectarian overtones threaten stability in the wider Middle East region. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters