Key U.N. Security Council (search) members dropped the threat of sanctions against Syria on Monday in a last-minute effort to get all 15 nations to back a resolution demanding that Damascus cooperate with an investigation into the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister Rafik Hariri (search).

The resolution had called for possible economic sanctions if Syria (search) didn't comply, citing the U.N. Charter. But the new text dropped the reference to the charter, saying only that if Syria doesn't cooperation "the council, if necessary, could consider further action."

During negotiations that began Sunday night and continued early Monday morning, the five veto-wielding council members — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — also agreed to drop an appeal to Syria to renounce all support for terrorism.