UN chief backs Arab League stand on strong Syria action
JEDDAH UN CHIEF Ban Ki-moon called on Sunday for broad international talks on the growing Syrian crisis, urging Security Council members to consider Arab League demands for stronger UN action in the strifetorn country.
“Our priority at this time is to help the Syrian people. I want to welcome a wider international discussion on the future course of actions,” Ban told reporters after a meeting with Organisation of Islamic Cooperation chief, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, in Jeddah.
Ban said he had “taken note” of Arab League calls for more peace monitors on the ground in Syria and “setting a certain time limit” for implementing international envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point Syria peace plan.
“All these are very important recommendations and I hope that these will be discussed by the Security Council members,” he said, adding that the UN and OIC will “do all what we can in close coordination to support (Annan’s) efforts.” Addressing the media, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al Faisal accused Syria’s President Bashar al Assad of “manoeuvring” to gain time, at a joint news conference on Sunday with UN chief Ban Ki-moon.
“Every initiative has been accepted by the Syrian regime and was not implemented. This is a way used by the regime to gain time,” Prince Saud said. “He is playing for time and manoeuvring,” he said referring to Assad.
Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al Thani, who heads the Arab League Syria committee, said on Saturday that it was “unacceptable that massacres and bloodshed continue while (Annan’s) mission is ongoing indefinitely.” Speaking during a meeting attended by Annan in Doha, he said the Arab League “demand the UN Security Council refer (the peace plan) to Chapter VII so that the international community could assume responsibilities.” Chapter VII outlines action the Security Council might take, including military force, in response to threats to international peace, breaches of the peace and acts of aggression. Up to 300 unarmed UN military observers have been deployed in Syria since a putative ceasefire brokered by Annan went into effect in April.
The plan calls for a halt to violence, daily two-hour humanitarian truce, media access to areas of fighting, the launching of a political dialogue, the right to demonstrate and the release of detainees.