UPDATE 1-Big powers meet at UN on "weak" U.S. Syria draft

Tue Mar 6, 2012 10:50pm GMT

* Unclear if U.S. draft will get UN council approval

* Europe, Arabs to support draft despite misgivings

* Russia, China have vetoed two Syria drafts so far (Adds U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, diplomats)

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, March 6 (Reuters) - The five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Morocco met behind closed doors on Tuesday to discuss a U.S.-drafted resolution urging an end to the Syrian government's crackdown on demonstrators, a text some Western envoys said was too weak.

It remains unclear whether the U.S. draft resolution, which follows two earlier proposed condemnations of Damascus that Russia and China vetoed, has any chance of success in the 15-nation council, which has been deadlocked over Syria's military operations against pro-democracy protesters for almost a year.

The U.S. draft, obtained by Reuters, demands "unhindered humanitarian access" and "condemns the continued widespread, systematic, and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities and demands that the Syrian government immediately put an end to such violations."

It also would have the council demand Syria release "all persons detained arbitrarily" and withdraw the military.

U.N. ambassadors from the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia, along with the sole Arab state on the 15-nation Security Council, Morocco, avoided detailed comments when they left a 1-1/2 hour meeting on the draft on Tuesday.   Continued...

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