The U.S. and its partners are hoping for support from Russia and China to prevent economic support of Assad's government in Syria. The opposition wants Assad to step down; to enable a transition to take place.
The United States and its European and Arab partners will threaten the Assad regime with global sanctions if it fails to quickly implement a Syrian peace plan that includes the appointment of a new interim government, U.S. officials said Thursday on the eve of an 80-nation conference.
The threat isn't new but officials believe it may carry added bite due to Russia and China's recent willingness to discuss Syrian transition strategies after 16 months of brutal crackdowns and civil war. The minimum hope is that the two veto-wielding U.N. Security Council powers might back elusive international economic sanctions if President Bashar Assad ignores the call for peace.
Diplomats at the United Nations already are working on a document that would demand restrictions on oil and other commercial business with Syria's government if it refuses to abide by U.N. mediator Kofi Annan's plan for a cease-fire and the creation of a caretaker government.
A U.N. resolution could be introduced next week, according to American officials who previewed Friday's "Friends of the Syrian People" gathering in Paris on condition of anonymity. But with neither Moscow nor Beijing in attendance, much will remain dependent on persuading the two reluctant powers to pressure Assad into action.