An official says Russia's government strongly opposes a draft UN resolution condemning Syria for its crackdown on protesters.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that Moscow believes that Syrians must settle an internal conflict without any foreign interference.
In remarks carried by Russian news agencies Thursday, he said the Syrian leadership must be given time to implement the promised reforms.
Lukashevich was referring to a draft UN resolution condemning the Syrian government for its deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protesters that was introduced Wednesday by several European nations. It has a strong US backing.
Lukashevich said there is no need to discuss the Syrian issue at the UN.
Russia added Thursday that it would vote against a Western-led push at the UN nuclear watchdog to report Syria to the Security Council for covert atomic activities, and China suggested it also opposed the measure.
The draft resolution, coinciding with Western condemnations of Syria's crackdown on opposition unrest, rebukes the Arab state for its three years' of stonewalling of a UN nuclear investigation into a desert site bombed by Israel in 2007.
A vote was expected later on Thursday, with a simple majority needed in the 35-nation governing board of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to adopt it.
Western diplomats said they believed they still had enough support for the measure, despite Russian and Chinese resistance.
However a split vote could aggravate political tensions within the global nuclear body and also prevent any Western attempt to seek UN sanctions on Syria over its atomic file.
AP and Reuters contributed to this report
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