June 11, 2011 / 12:10 AM / 8 years ago

Syria says European UN draft would aid 'terrorists'

* Diplomats trying to break deadlock on draft resolution

* Syria: Protests are “violence, murder and destruction”

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, June 10 (Reuters) - A European draft resolution condemning Syria for its bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters would only embolden “extremists and terrorists,” Syria warned U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon in a letter.

“It is important that the Security Council should not intervene in the internal affairs of Syria, which is a founding member of the United Nations,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem told Ban in a letter obtained by Reuters on Friday.

“We are quite certain that any resolution that is adopted by that body under any heading will only exacerbate the situation and send a message to those extremists and terrorists to the effect that the deliberate destruction that they are wreaking has the support of the Security Council,” he said.

U.N. Security Council diplomats met again in New York on Friday in an attempt to break their deadlock on a draft resolution that would not impose sanctions on Syria but would condemn it for the crackdown and suggest Syrian security forces might be guilty of crimes against humanity.

Diplomats said Friday’s meeting produced no changes among the 15 Security Council members. Currently nine council members, including the draft’s sponsors Britain, France, Germany and Portugal, plan to vote for it.

Russia and China dislike the idea of any council discussion of Syria and have suggested they might use their veto power to kill the resolution. Lebanon, India, Brazil and South Africa have also said they have problems with the text.

Envoys said the latest draft, which was submitted to the council on Wednesday by Britain, France, Germany and Portugal, could be put to a vote next week.

NO APOLOGY FROM DAMASCUS

Moualem offered no apology for the crackdown, which rights groups say has killed over 1,100 civilians since March. He said Damascus had no choice but to press ahead to ensure “the security of the nation and the population.”

“We hope that the United Nations and its Member States will assist Syria in confronting the challenges of extremism and terrorism and will not hastily adopt a position that will provide a cloak for the murderous, destructive gangs,” Moualem said in the letter, which was dated on Thursday.

He said that diplomatic moves to condemn Syria in New York and elsewhere “constitute flagrant intervention in the internal affairs of Syria and an attempt to destabilize it and control the current and future decisions and destinies of its people.”

Earlier, Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters that the U.N. secretary-general had been trying to speak on the telephone with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but was told that the president was “not available.”

Moualem said the Syrian government was committed to “building democracy, widening citizens’ participation in the political process, firmly establishing national unity and ensuring general order.”

He added that in the coming days “a committee comprising high-level party representatives and other independent persons will conduct a comprehensive national dialogue in Syria.”

Moualem said the demonstrations in most places in Syria are not peaceful but “acts of violence, murder and destruction that reduce public and private installations to ashes.”

“Stockpiles of arms and ammunition have been discovered in a number of places, which confirms that the problem we face has gone beyond the mere making of demands to an onslaught on the security, stability and sovereignty of the country that is being fomented from abroad,” he told Ban.

He said certain countries base their views about what is happening in Syria on “erroneous information” and ignore both the reforms the Syrian government is implementing and the crimes being committed by “armed gangs.” (Editing by Vicki Allen)

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