By Ray Fleming

YESTERDAY'S UN Security Council meeting on Syria was a closed session but its objective was probably to discuss the possibility of a new UN resolution urging Syria's President Assad to step down and enable a new and more representative interim government to be formed. This is the proposal made earlier this week by the Arab League but almost immediately rejected by Assad as unwarranted interference with his country's internal affairs.

The Arab League's chief, Nabil al Arabi, and Quatar's prime minister are travelling to New York next week for talks with the Security Council at which they will be pressed for a robust resolution to unite Arab and Western concern at the loss of life taking place daily in Syria.

These meetings will clarify whether Russia is ready to modify its resistance to any form of interference in Syria. Three factors are probably at work: earlier this week Moscow signed a 353 million pound contract to supply Syria with 36 Yak-130 combat jets in a continuation of its role as one of Syria's main arms suppliers; Russia continues to allege that the West took illegal advantage of the UN resolution on Libya last year authorising limited military assistance to the rebels; and Vladimir Putin who believes that the West is behind internal opposition to his presidency bid will be reluctant to approve external interference elsewhere.

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