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Russia to endorse Annan’s Syria peace plan


Sergey Lavrov, left, says Russia is  prepared to support Kofi Annan’s six point plan on Syria [Reuters]

Russia says it is ready to support a UN resolution endorsing Kofi Annan’s plan for settling the Syrian crisis.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, however, warned that the resolution should not turn into an ultimatum to the Syrian government, which has set the stage for tough bargaining over the wording of the document at the UN Security Council.

First talks on the statement will be held on Tuesday and France’s UN envoy Gerard Araud said he hoped it would be adopted the same day.

The statement calls on Assad and Syria’s opposition to “implement fully and immediately” Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan. It says the council will “consider  further measures” if nothing is done within seven days of any adoption.


Russia and China have twice shielded Assad’s regime from the UN sanctions over its long crackdown on protesters, in which more than 8,000 have died.

But the Kremlin has also offered strong support to Annan, the former United Nations Secretary-General who is the joint UN and Arab League special envoy.

Annan has met twice with Assad earlier this month and made proposals to end the bloodshed, which have not been made public.

Lavrov said that Annan’s proposals should now be unveiled, adding that Moscow stands ready to back a UN Security Council resolution supporting it.

“The Security Council should support them not as an ultimatum, but as a basis for the continuing efforts by Kofi Annan aimed at reaching accord between all the Syrians, the government and all opposition groups on all key issues, such as humanitarian corridors, halting hostilities by all parties, the beginning of a political dialogue and offering access to the media,” said Lavrov.

Lavrov’s statement came after Moscow backed calls by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICTC) for daily two-hour ceasefires to deliver huminatirain aid to peoole caught up in the Syrian conflict.

Humanitarian assistance

On Monday, the foreign ministry called on the Syrian government “and all armed groups who oppose it” to agree to ceasefires “without delay,” after ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger held talks with Lavrov on Monday.

Moscow had called for the ICRC to have access to “those detained in Syria for their participation in protests”.


 

Kellenberger said Russia’s support for its appeal was “very important” and that he noted it with “satisfaction and gratitude”.

“The most important issue for us is to ensure humanitarian ceasefires as soon as possible,” Russian media quoted him as saying.

He said the prospect of more Syrian cities being subjected to the intense military bombardment seen in Homs earlier this year was “absolutely unacceptable”.

In February the ICRC, the only international agency to deploy aid workers in Syria, proposed a daily humanitarian ceasefire of two hours to allow time to evacuate the wounded and deliver food, medicine and other vital supplies.

Kellenberger said he told Lavrov the situation had grown more “urgent” and that a likely deterioration made the need for the daily ceasefires all the more important.

“It cannot be that when you have the most intense fighting you do not have access to evacuate the wounded,” Kellenberger told the Reuters news agency in an interview.

Fighting in Damascus

Overnight, the Syrian capital, Damascus, experienced some of its heaviest fighting since the uprising began a year ago.

Witnesses said machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades were heard from the heavily guarded district of al-Mezzeh, where several security buildings are located and which has seen several large anti-government protests.

At least three rebels and a member of the security forces were killed in the Mezzeh district, state television and monitors reported.

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