Striking a fine balance between its Arab world compulsions and long-held position on regime-change, India abstained from the UN general assembly resolution that called for political transition in the Syria.
The resolution on Friday got 133 votes in favour, while 31 nations abstained from it. Russia, China, Iran Cuba were among the dozen countries that voted against the resolution.
The UN general assembly resolution - drafted by Saudi Arabia and prominently backed by Qatar - is not legally binding and is of a moral nature. It expressed "grave concern" at the escalating violence in Syria and demanded that the country lockdown it's chemical and biological weapons.
The abstention signals a shift in India's stand on Syria at the UN, which of late was closely aligned with that of the Arab League and the west. Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the two countries at the forefront on Syrian issues have close ties with India. But, the latest resolution talks of regime change and measure like the UN members severing ties with Syria.
In his explanation of vote on the resolution, India's permanent representative to the UN Hardeep Puri said, the resolution makes specific reference to the July 22 resolution of the League of Arab States which "openly called for President Assad to step down from power and for other UN members to severe diplomatic relations and contacts with Syria".
"It is unfortunate that this element of the present resolution was not removed, hence, we have abstained from the resolution", Puri said.
He said India firmly believes that it is critical for the United Nations to remain strongly involved with the Syrian parties and other actors in the search for a way forward. "Unilateral action of any kind will not resolve the crisis. It will only exacerbate the problem and cause greater instability and violence", he warned.
He said that the leadership of Syria is for Syrians to decide through a democratic process. "The task of the international community, anchored in the United Nations, is to assist the Syrian parties in this process", Puri said.
The UN resolution says the first step in the cessation of violence has to be made by the Syrian authorities. The resolution was earlier watered down on two key provisions-- a demand that President Assad resign and a call for other countries to impose sanctions on Syria.