Syria accepts Annan peace plan
BEIJING SYRIA has accepted a proposal crafted by Kofi Annan that aims to end bloodshed in the strife-hit country, but the United Nations-Arab League envoy has cautioned implementation is key to peace.
Monitors say over 9,100 people have been killed in Syria over the past year as President Bashar al Assad’s regime cracks down on protests, and the plan urges a UN-supervised halt to fighting, bringing hopes the violence will end.
Meanwhile, at least 15 people were killed on Tuesday across Syria in clashes between regime forces and rebel troops, including near the border with Lebanon, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“The Syrian government has written to the Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan accepting his six-point plan, endorsed by the United Nations Security Council,” Annan’s spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said in a statement.
“Annan views this as an important initial step that could bring an end to the violence and the bloodshed, provide aid to the suffering, and create an environment conducive to a political dialogue that would fulfil the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people,” he said.
Annan is currently in Beijing on a trip aimed at shoring up support for his sixpoint plan, which also calls for a daily two-hour humanitarian ceasefire and access to all areas affected by the fighting in Syria.
The former UN Secretary- General held talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who pledged his support for his mediation efforts — as did Russian President Dmitry Medvedev when Annan visited Moscow over the weekend.
According to Fawzi, Annan has written to Assad asking Damascus to “put its (plan’s) commitments into immediate effect”. He has also urged the release of people detained over the past year of the uprising against Assad’s regime. “Annan has stressed that implementation will be key, not only for the Syrian people, who are caught in the middle of this tragedy, but also for the region and the international community as a whole,” Fawzi said.
“As the Syrian government acts on its commitments, Mr Annan will move urgently to work with all parties to secure implementation of the plan at all levels.” As news of Damascus’ acceptance emerged, Syria’s opposition factions met for a second day in Istanbul to agree on common objectives for their nation’s future ahead of a weekend international conference on the issue.
Syria’s fragmented opposition has struggled to remain united in the face of the regime’s deadly crackdown and the Istanbul talks are aimed at shoring up ranks and securing international recognition.
On the ground, meanwhile, Syrian forces pressed their assault across the country with at least eight people, including three women, killed overnight in clashes with rebel troops, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
State television reported Assad had inspected troops stationed in the flashpoint Baba Amr neighbourhood of Homs city, site of a fierce battle between regime forces and rebel troops that has left hundreds dead.
Beijing on Tuesday called on all parties in Syria to cooperate with Annan.
His spokesman told AFP China’s position was that it would “continue to support this process and they will use whatever influence they have on the parties to ensure implementation.” China and Russia — both allies of Syria — have provoked Western fury by twice blocking UN Security Council resolutions that condemned the Assad regime. Beijing opposes foreign military intervention or any attempt at regime change in Syria.