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Syria Pulls Out Of Race For UN Human Rights Council

Thick smoke rises as antigovernment protesters demonstrate in Moaret Al-Noman, Syria, in late April.
UN envoys say Syria has dropped plans to run for a seat on the United Nations' top human rights body this year.

Syria has come under increasing pressure to pull out of the race following its crackdown on protesters against the authoritarian regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

UN diplomats -- speaking on condition of anonimity -- said that Kuwait has confirmed to Western officials that it planned to run for a seat at the 47-member UN Human Rights Council from the Asian group.

There was no immediate confirmation from Syrian officials.

The council is the main UN body charged with monitoring human rights violations. However, countries are not elected according to their human rights record but by regional groups.

Syria had been one of four candidates -- with India, Indonesia, and the Philippines -- for four vacancies to be filled by Asia this year.

The UN General Assembly will hold its annual elections for one-third of the seats on the Geneva-based Human Rights Council on May 20.

compiled from agency and media reports