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Manila refrained from Syria vote to save workers

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MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines says it did not take part in a U.N. vote on a resolution calling on Syrian leader Bashar Assad to step down as it seeks Syria’s help in moving Filipinos from the troubled nation.

The U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Thursday for a resolution backing an Arab League plan calling on Assad to step down and strongly condemning human rights violations by his regime, which has been blamed for a bloody crackdown that has killed over 5,400 people.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said Sunday that the Philippines’ main concern was to repatriate thousands of Filipinos in Syria through the help of its government.

Nearly 1,000 Filipino workers have fled from Syria and thousands more remain there.

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