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    UNSC rejects Russian ceas-fire proposal on Libya

    United Nations: The UN Security Council on Thursday rejected a Russian proposal to pass a smaller resolution calling for a cease-fire in Libya, even as the 15-member body debated a draft resolution to impose a no-fly zone over the North African nation."We did come up with the idea of doing a brief but punchy ceasefire resolution," Russian envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin told journalists after consultations ended late on Wednesday. "I even offered to include some specific strong language directing the call for a ceasefire particularly to the Libyan authorities," Churkin said, noting that proposal was not meant to replace the no-fly zone resolution.France, however, said the Russian proposal was weaker than the resolution passed by the Security Council, in February, which had not deterred Muammar Gaddafi's forces from a violent crackdown on the rebels and civilian population.Resolution 1970, adopted on February 26, slapped sanctions on the Libyan regime including an arms embargo, an asset freeze and travel ban on Gaddafi and his loyalists, and a referral to the Hague-based International Criminal Court."This (Russian) proposal is certainly not enough," said Stephane Crouzat, the French mission spokesperson. "It has no teeth and we don't want to engage in a resolution that will be less than 1970.""Our expectation is to vote on Friday on a forceful resolution and not on a wait and see resolution," Churkin added.Susan Rice, US envoy to the UN, noted the cease-fire element of the Russian proposal could be incorporated into the lengthier draft resolution."I think most members of the Council were focused on the importance of the Council taking swift and meaningful action to try to halt the killing on the ground," she told journalists. At the end of Security Council consultations, however, there was no clear consensus on whether a no-fly zone would be imposed on Libya, and talks are set to resume on Thursday morning.The Arab League has urgently appealed for a no-fly zone but several countries have raised questions about its implementation --where will the assets come from and what areas will be covered.Given the very serious and technical nature of the no-fly zone resolution, Churkin insisted, passing a smaller resolution made sense, especially since there was no guarantee that a no-fly zone would be effective."This brief resolution, especially, that it comes on the heels of a similar statement by the Secretary General, could possibly have a certain effect in preventing what we are being told as an impending bloodshed in Libya," Churkin said.Following reports that Gaddafi's forces would soon attack the eastern city of Benghazi, which has been a rebel-stronghold, UN Secretary-General Ban called on all parties to accept an immediate ceasefire."A campaign to bombard such an urban center would massively place civilians at risk," said a statement from Ban's spokesperson, issued on Thursday. Responding to whether the resolution will clearly authorize air strikes, Daniel Shepherd, the UK mission spokesperson said that this was still being discussed."We don't want to be vague but it’s still a very difficult negotiation very complex negotiations," Churkin added."There are still range of views” Rice, for instance, said that the Council may have to go beyond a no-fly zone."The situation on the ground has evolved, and as a no-fly zone has inherent limitations in terms of protection of civilians at immediate risk," she said.Diplomats now have talk to their capitals about the changes introduced in the original draft resolution, authored by Britain and France, which was circulated by Lebanon on Tuesday."The draft kept changing as we were discussing it and it kept changing in a way which was making it increasingly difficult to make an important political decision," Churkin said.