UNITED NATIONS — The United States and its European and Arab partners have agreed to drop a demand to impose U.N. sanctions and a voluntary arms embargo on Syria, in exchange for a commitment from Russia to allow adoption of a U.N. Security Council resolution that paves the way for President Bashar al-Assad's departure from power.
The latest offer, outlined in a new version of a draft resolution under negotiations in the 15-nation council, represents a retreat by the United States and its European and Arab allies, stripping away the most painful measures aimed at Syria and taking off the table the issue of its weapons purchases from Russia, Syria's closest ally.
But the pact would for the first time place the Security Council, and possibly Russia, squarely behind an Arab League plan outlining a timetable for a transfer of power to a government of national unity, and ultimately new parliamentary and presidential elections. And it would mark the first time since the violence began that the council has adopted a binding resolution condemning Syria's conduct.
Security Council diplomats said they are confident they have fashioned the broad parameters of a possible deal that would end months of inaction on Syria by the council. But they cautioned that Russia has yet to agree to support an unambiguous endorsement of the Arab League political plan, and that the entire proposal could unravel if it doesn't.