February 5, 2012 / 1:22 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Arab League to pursue Syria efforts after UN setback

(Adds quotes from statement)

CAIRO, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Arab states will not stop their efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis even though their bid to secure U.N. backing was blocked by Russia and China, the Arab League’s secretary-general said in a statement obtained by Reuters on Sunday.

Nabil Elaraby also said the Russian and Chinese veto “does not negate that there is clear international support for the resolutions of the Arab League”, which had sought U.N. Security Council backing for a decision that called for President Bashar al-Assad to step aside so talks with the opposition could start.

The League statement was expected to be issued more widely later on Sunday.

Western and Arab states responded with outrage after Russia and China vetoed on Saturday the U.N. Security Council resolution based on the Arab peace initiative.

Elaraby and Qatar’s prime minister, whose country heads the League committee following the Syrian crisis, had briefed members of the council on the plan before the vote.

“The Arab League will continue efforts with the Syrian government and opposition, and coordinating with all sides related to the Syrian issue, in order to realise the higher objectives which the Arab League is working towards,” Elaraby’s statement said.

It cited those goals as ending all acts of violence and killing, protecting unarmed citizens and finding a political solution to enable reforms that protect Syria’s unity “and avoids any ... foreign military intervention.”

The statement said Elaraby “expressed hope that the Syrian government heeds the demands of its people and ends the violence and bloodshed.”

Foreign ministers would meet on Feb. 11 to discuss the Syrian crisis and will “take the appropriate decisions to deal with these developments including presenting the issue another time to the Security Council,” the statement said. (Reporting by Ayman Samir; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Tim Pearce)

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