West launches latest initiative to end Syria bloodshed | News | DW | 20.03.2012
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West launches latest initiative to end Syria bloodshed

France has circulated a statement at the UN Security Council that threatens the Syrian regime with "further measures" if it doesn't adopt international envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan to end the year-long bloodshed.

In the latest diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed in Syria, France circulated a Western-drafted statement to the UN Security Council on Monday backing a peace plan by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

The statement threatens the Syrian regime with "further measures," which could include sanctions or military action, if it does not "fully and immediately" implement Annan's proposals to halt the 12 months of killing in Syria within seven days of its adoption. The first talks on the statement are due to be held on Tuesday, with the possibility that it could be adopted by the Council on the same day.

Annan appealed for united Security Council support on Friday for his six-point peace plan which he had put to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during two meetings in Damascus earlier this month. The plan demands a halt to the violence, humanitarian access, the release of detainees and the withdrawal of security forces from protest cities.

The presidential statement, which falls short of being a formal resolution, also expresses the "gravest concern" at the deteriorating crisis in Syria and "profound regret" at the thousands of dead over the past year.

Germany's UN ambassador, Peter Wittig, said on Monday that the statement contained "a clear message to the Syrian authorities to cooperate with Kofi Annan, to cooperate with the Security Council. And, above all, to immediately end the violence that is still raging in a very brutal way."

He added that it was "urgent" that the declaration be adopted on Tuesday.

Possible objections

Although the presidential statement carries less weight than a Security Council resolution and would not be legally binding, diplomats have warned that China and Russia could reject the statement's reference to "further measures."

The two nations have previously used their powers as permanent members of the 15-nation council to veto two US and European-backed resolutions on Syria. Both adamantly opposed any mention of possible sanctions.

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Violence and bloodshed in Syria continues‎

On Tuesday, however, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia is ready to back Annon's plan in the form of a Security Council resolution and called for the proposals to be published.

"The Security Council should approve [the proposals] not as an ultimatum but with consideration for the work that is ongoing, and approve them as the basis for Kofi Annan's continuing efforts to achieve agreement between all Syrians," Lavrov said in Moscow.

He added that Russia would still reject a resolution that contained ultimatums.

The United Nations estimates that more than 8,000 people have been killed in the year-long uprising against the Syrian regime.

ccp,mz/ncy (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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