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U.N. vote on Syria resolution

The U.N. General Assembly is set to vote on Wednesday on a draft resolution that condemns Syrian authorities and accepts the opposition Syrian National Coalition as party to a potential political transition. Russia, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is opposed to the resolution, which was drafted by Qatar and other Arab nations and circulated among the 193 U.N. member states. Some Western diplomats said it was unlikely to win as many votes as a resolution that passed last year with 133 in favor. No country has a veto in the General Assembly. "I'm convinced a lot of countries voted for this text because they believed they were voting for the winning side," a senior western U.N. diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said in reference to the August, 2012 resolution. "They are not so sure anymore." The Syrian conflict started more than two years ago with mainly peaceful demonstrations against Assad, but turned into a civil war in which the United Nations says at least 70,000 people have been killed. Wednesday's vote comes as Washington and European governments have been mulling the benefits and risks of supplying arms to Syrian rebels.
 
Another senior U.N. diplomat, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said this draft resolution was stronger than the earlier resolution, prompting Russia to write to all states to complain that it was unbalanced. The diplomat said Russia had also warned that it could hinder preparations for a Syria peace conference, as agreed by Russia and the United States.
 
A dispute between Russia and the United States over how to end Syria's war has left the U.N. Security Council paralyzed to act. They both agreed last week to convene a peace conference on Syria, but that plan already appears to be hitting snags over who should represent the opposition.
 
The current draft U.N. resolution welcomes the establishment of the Syrian National Coalition "as effective representative interlocutors needed for a political transition."

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