The United Nations Secretary-General has called for immediate action to end the bloodshed in Syria. Ban Ki-moon spoke out Wednesday during a visit to Israel, as the U.N. Security Council struggles to reach agreement on a resolution with Russia promising a veto.
"We cannot wait any longer until the political process is finished while many people are being killed," Ban told reporters in Jerusalem. "While I fully support the political solution of this issue that is quite advisable. But first and foremost we have to take necessary action so that we will not lose any more human lives."
The Security Council is trying to forge a compromise resolution aimed at stopping 10 months of clashes between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and anti-government demonstrators. More than 5,000 people have been killed.
Backed by Western nations, the Arab League has proposed a resolution that calls for Assad to give up power and stop all violence against the demonstrators. But several Russian officials signaled Wednesday that Moscow would veto any resolution that does not reject military intervention.
Russia fears that otherwise a U.N. resolution could lead to foreign military support for the Syrian rebels such as the NATO-led air strikes last year that helped oust longtime Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Ban made his remarks after meeting Israeli President Shimon Peres at the start of a two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The U.N. head's meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials is part of an international effort to keep alive a series of preliminary talks aimed at reviving the stalled Middle East peace negotiations. He is due to visit the Gaza Strip on Thursday.
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