UNGA adopts resolution on Syria, India abstains

UN General Assembly

The UN General Assembly has overwhelmingly adopted a Saudi-drafted resolution on Syria that denounced the escalating violence in the country and demanded a political transition, a voting in which India was among 31 nations that abstained.

The symbolic UN General Assembly resolution, which expressed "grave concern" at the escalating violence in Syria, got 133 votes in favour in the 193-member body Friday.

India abstained from voting after the Saudi-drafted text referred to calls for President Bashar Al Assad to step down and asked UN states to severe diplomatic relations with the troubled nation.

The resolution, which is not legally binding and is of a moral nature, also demanded that the country lockdown its chemical and biological weapons.

In his explanation of vote on the resolution, India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said the resolution makes specific reference to the July 22 resolution of the League of Arab States which "openly called for President Assad to step down from power and for other UN members to severe diplomatic relations and contacts with Syria."

He said while India does not hold any brief for any particular Syrian leader, it could not welcome the League's resolution.

"It is unfortunate that this element of the present resolution was not removed, and hence we have abstained from the resolution," Puri said.

The resolution also deplored "the failure of the Security Council to agree on measures to ensure the compliance of Syrian authorities with its decisions".

A day before the vote, a senior member of the Indian delegation here had said the draft had made demands for regime change, sanctions against Syria and calls for Assad to step down, which India was not in favour of.

He said Indian officials had "worked over time" to get these demands dropped from the resolution with Puri also holding several rounds of discussion with his Saudi and Qatari counterparts.

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