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    Annan: Syria Accepts Six-Point Peace Plan

    Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, left, meets with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the Great Hall of People in Beijing, March 27, 2012.
    Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, left, meets with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the Great Hall of People in Beijing, March 27, 2012.
    Margaret Besheer

    U.N.-Arab League envoy on Syria Kofi Annan says the Syrian government accepted his six-point peace plan for ending the year-long crisis.  Mr. Annan called the move an “important initial step.”

    The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 10 people were killed on Tuesday, as government forces fired at civilians and battled rebels in several parts of the country, including the northwestern province of Idlib, the Damascus suburbs and the central city of Homs.

    Syrian President Assad on Tuesday toured the former rebel stronghold of Baba Amr in Homs, the scene of a weeks-long siege by government forces. He was seen walking past ruined buildings and discussing reconstruction efforts.

    Kofi Annan met with officials in Beijing Tuesday, following a stop in Moscow. He is talking with countries with influence in Damascus about how to stop the bloodshed that, according to the U.N., has claimed more than 9,000 lives.

    In a statement Mr. Annan’s spokesman said the Syrian government had written to the joint envoy accepting his peace plan, which received unanimous backing from the U.N. Security Council last week. Mr. Annan stressed that “implementation will be key.”

    The plan calls for a U.N.-monitored stop to the violence, access for humanitarian aid workers, and an inclusive Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, multi-party political system.

    British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, who holds the Security Council’s rotating presidency this month, said the 15-nation body hopes to hear more on the details directly from Mr. Annan soon.  “Well, obviously, this is potentially a significant step and we are exploring the possibility of Kofi Annan coming to brief the Security Council later this week or early next week," he said.

    French Ambassador Gérard Araud expressed some skepticism, referring to the old adage about “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” - meaning the Syrian response would be judged in the final result.

    German Ambassador Peter Wittig was also restrained in his optimism. “Well it might turn out to be a first step in the right direction, but of course we have to remain cautious. Syria has in the past a history of credibility gaps," he said.

    A member of the exiled opposition Syrian National Council responded to Syria's acceptance of the Annan peace plan by reiterating a demand for Assad to resign, a condition that is not part of the initiative. Ausama Monajed says that unless the Syrian president hands power to a deputy to negotiate with the opposition, any talks will be a "waste of time" and lead to more casualties.

    Analysts say that Syrian acceptance of the Annan plan is an important first step, but implementation is key.

    George Washington University International Relations professor Edmund Ghareeb said the Annan plan’s points, such as calling for dialogue and demanding both sides stop the violence, and its lack of any call for President Bashar al-Assad to step aside, could be viewed as closer to the Syrian government’s position.

    “I think they realize that both the United States and Russia have agreed to support the Annan mission and that this may be the last opportunity to reach a peaceful, diplomatic way out of the current impasse. So a great deal is going to depend on the implementation and what happens next, as well as the reactions of other players in the region and within the Syrian opposition," he said.

    But senior adviser on Middle East initiatives at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Steve Heydemann, notes that President Assad has agreed to other peace initiatives before and then not implemented them. He said such a pattern does not bode well for Mr. Annan’s efforts.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: CHETA OBIANEFO
    March 28, 2012 6:20 AM
    Honestly, Assad deserves the Ghadafi treatment. The guy is terribly bloody.

    by: Boško Barac
    March 27, 2012 12:18 PM
    Care for peace also in Palestina!
    UN and USA can help also there!

    by: ANNA AIELLO
    March 27, 2012 9:15 AM
    please ...if u can read this than please we need ur prayers!!!the Our Father
    together with reciting the Holy Rosary will help those people!!I m imploring
    u, pleas if u know the Rosary pray it..(ask THE Mother Of God n Jeasus
    what it is u want @ the beginning of Each Mistery)it will be heard!!!Let s stop
    the Slaughtering of THousand of lives with our prayers!!!!please do it.....
    They want what we already have......

    by: Fatimah
    March 27, 2012 8:45 AM
    It’s time for President Obama to face reality. Bashar Assad can’t be negotiated with. This is a dictatorship that has burned families alive. These criminals have lost touch with the suffering of ordinary Syrians while they are downloading their favorite songs from I-tunes. Either Obama takes real measures to remove Assad from Syria and create conditions on the ground for elections and democracy in Syria or he needs to tell the world that he is powerless to stop the genocide and terror in Syria.

    by: Sanjay
    March 27, 2012 6:41 AM
    It is really sad to see how humans in most Countries have such little disrepect for human life and this includes Government officials who creat all this tension amongst the people. In Africa it is worse.

    by: J Edgar
    March 27, 2012 5:42 AM
    "An end to autocratic rule" in Syria! Will there follow an end to autocratic rule in Saudi Arabia etc etc in due course?

    by: conor
    March 27, 2012 5:38 AM
    I think that it is just sad that this is happening not just in syria but every were us humans are angry and viloent race and untill this changes there will allways be war people you dont have to be all hippy like but if people just used there brains more this world would be a great place to live

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