No future for Russia bid for U.N. approval of Syria strikes: Britain

By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Britain said on Friday there was no future for a Russian bid to win United Nations approval of international military campaigns combating Islamic State militants, which Russia decried as strange because there was nothing objectionable in its proposal. Russia circulated a draft resolution to the 15-member U.N. Security Council on Wednesday that would call on states involved in military efforts against Islamic State and other militants to coordinate with the countries where they are operating. In the case of Syria, this would mean cooperating military activities with President Bashar al-Assad's government. When asked if the Russian draft resolution had a future, British U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters: "No." Britain is one of the council's five veto powers, along with the United States, France, China and Russia. Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin described Rycroft as a "pessimist." He said he may convene negotiations on Monday on the draft, which had been circulated during a counter terrorism meeting chaired by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. "I don't see anything which could be objectionable in that resolution. This is really very strange," Churkin said. "There is nothing to object to so I will be very curious to see what they say against this resolution." Russia bombed Syria for a third day on Friday, mainly hitting areas held by rival insurgent groups rather than the Islamic State fighters it said it was targeting and drawing an increasingly angry response from the West. "We're deeply concerned by the situation in Syria, made far worse by the build up of forces by Russia and the fact that Russia is using those forces against opponents of the Assad regime," Rycroft said. The Russian draft, seen by Reuters, welcomes efforts of states fighting Islamic State, al Qaeda, Nusra Front and other groups in the region and calls upon those states "to coordinate their activities with the consent of the States, in the territories of which such activities are conducted." The U.S.-led coalition informed Syria when it began air strikes a year ago but did not seek permission. The coalition members say they are acting in collective self-defense at the request of neighboring Iraq. Russia said Syria had requested its military assistance. The Russian draft resolution also asked states combating extremist groups in the region to submit periodic reports to the Security Council on their activities. It also says those responsible for "terrorist acts" must be held accountable. A bid by Russia for a unanimous council statement last month on counter terrorism failed after Washington refused to negotiate on the text, which Western diplomats said included unacceptable language on Syria and Yemen and the Middle East peace process. Churkin said he was concerned that Britain appeared to be unwilling to negotiate, similar to the United States in the case of the rejected council statement last month. "I'm a little bit bothered," Churkin said. "If from the outset you say 'well I don't want to even try (to find) common ground' then it's going to be a very strange Security Council." (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Grant McCool)