Cautious India weighed pros and cons before abstaining from UN’s Syria vote
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The controversial call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down and imposition of sanctions by the international community on a sovereign country — both against the basic ethos of Indian foreign policy — led New Delhi to abstain from the strongly-worded United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on early Saturday.
India was joined by 30 countries in abstaining from the resolution, ultimately adopted by the UNGA with 133 votes in favour. The Saudi-drafted resolution on Syria, which denounced the escalating violence in the country and demanded a political transition, was opposed by 12 countries including China and Russia.
It is learnt that the pros and cons of the resolution was debated in South Block till late on Friday evening, and a decision to abstain was taken "in all caution" — moments before the vote. "There was no attempt to duck the issue," a government source explained.
The resolution, which is not legally binding and is of a moral nature, also demanded that the country lock down its chemical and biological weapons.
Government sources in New Delhi said the situation in Syria was "complicated" and it was not clear who was perpetrating the violence all the time. In fact, an UNSC draft resolution on July 19, which was vetoed, had mentioned "the presence of well-organised terrorist groups". "The rebels are getting arms, and the sophistication of weapons...it is a very dangerous trend," the government source said, indicating the external involvement in the rebel attacks.
In its explanation of vote on the resolution, India's Permanent Representative to the UN Hardeep Puri also strongly condemned all violence and violations of human rights irrespective of its perpetrators. It also voiced condemnation in the "strongest terms possible" over the terrorist acts being committed in Syria. India also called upon all parties to dissociate themselves from terrorist groups and ensure that no space was provided for those groups.
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