Syrian government accepts Annan peace plan

 

Syria's Bashar al-Assad continues to make public appearances among supporters

Syria's government has agreed to accept the peace plan put forward by the United Nations and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, his spokesman has said.

Ahmed Fawzi said Mr Annan considered it an "important initial step" to help bring an end to the violence, but added that implementation was key.

However, the main opposition coalition is sceptical and has questioned whether the government will honour its pledge.

Meanwhile, the UN said more than 9,000 people had been killed in the uprising.

The acceptance of the plan was hailed as an "important step" by US state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

Start Quote

A peaceful transition means that the regime needs to be changed”

End Quote Basma Kodmani Syrian National Council

However, she said Mr Assad must implement the plan by "silencing his guns and allowing humanitarian aid to get in".

'Critical juncture'

Speaking after it was announced that the Syrian government had accepted his peace plan, Mr Annan thanked countries that have supported his attempts to mediate in the conflict.

He is currently in Beijing for talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Mr Wen offered his support for Mr Annan's strategy, saying the situation was "at a critical juncture", and "your mediation efforts will lead to progress".

At the weekend Russia also offered its support. The two countries had been heavily criticised after vetoing two UN Security Council resolutions condemning the violence.

Mr Annan's six-point plan calls for Mr Assad's government to pull troops and heavy weapons out of population centres, and for all parties to allow for a daily two-hour pause to the fighting in order for humanitarian aid to reach affected areas. The plan also requests that the authorities release those detained in the uprising.

However, it does not impose any deadline for Mr Assad, or call for him to leave power.

Annan's six-point peace plan

1. Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people

2. UN-supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties to protect civilians

3. All parties to ensure provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting, and implement a daily two-hour humanitarian pause

4. Authorities to intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons

5. Authorities to ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists

6. Authorities to respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully

The main opposition coalition, the Syrian National Council (SNC), which is seeking to agree a "national pact" of common objectives with other opposition groups in Istanbul, gave a lukewarm response to the plan.

"A peaceful transition means that the regime needs to be changed. And that starts with the removal of the head of the state," Basma Kodmani, a spokeswoman for the SNC, told the Reuters news agency.

"Mr Annan's initiative for us should lead to developments of clear terms of reference for negotiation on the modalities of change. Not on whether the change should happen or not."

Mr Annan has written to Mr Assad urging him to put his commitments into immediate effect.

the BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen says the agreement is not as strongly worded as earlier UN resolutions, but it can be regarded as more pressure on Mr Assad and his government, which he seems to have decided that he cannot ignore.

However, implementing the plan is another matter, our correspondent adds.

In other developments on Tuesday:

  • Clashes between Syrian security forces and armed rebels have spilled across the border with Lebanon, witnesses and Lebanese security officials say
  • Syria's opposition groups are meeting in Istanbul to try to achieve a more united front
  • President Bashar al-Assad has visited the former rebel stronghold Baba Amr in Homs, which troops entered earlier this month after nearly four weeks of bombardment left an estimated 700 people dead
  • Yakin Erturk has resigned from a UN commission of inquiry looking into alleged human rights abuses, citing lack of access to Syria
  • Turkish Airlines is stopping flights to Syria after Turkey's closure of its embassy in Damascus.
 

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  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 71.

    I salute those of you, who possesses an objective eye, and are looking at this crises -that is disturbing Syria`s development plans-. For my brothers who still believes that the solution is OK no matter what! allow me to ask you to reconsider the consequences of any solution that includes violence.
    is`NT there any solution that ensures the unity of Syria?!!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 70.

    Please, please let this be the beginning of the end.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 50.

    Excellent news. Well done the UN, the Arab League and Kofi Annan
    Can't be implemented soon enough though.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 38.

    Implementation and verification may in fact turn out to be the easy part. Sustaining peace will be a lot harder as memories last longer than peace plans.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 26.

    The problem with peace plans is that unless you plan it very carefully, it is very easily abused. No-one will agree to a deal that allows the other side to regroup and renew its fighting later, nor a deal that requires them to stop shooting first.

    A plan that lacks the confidence of either side is worthless. It's no use blaming the other side - the only chance to find a deal acceptable to all.

 

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