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Syrian Crisis Could Get Worse, Annan Warns

  • VOA News

Kofi Annan, center, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov talk before the start of the Action Group on Syria meeting in the Palace of Nations, Saturday, June 30, 2012 in Geneva.
The international envoy charged with bringing peace to Syria is warning world powers they could soon have more blood on their hands.

Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke to Security Council members in Geneva Saturday as activists said that Syrian government troops had retaken control of a suburb of Damascus, leaving dozens dead.

Annan lamented that his six-point cease-fire plan had not been implemented and said the time has come for the international community to do more. If not, he said the mounting death toll "will be the consequence of not only the acts of killers on the ground but also your inability to bridge the divisions between you."

The talks, including representatives from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and envoys from Arab countries, are aimed at salvaging Annan's peace plan and finding a political solution to the crisis.

Before the meeting, British Foreign Secretary William Hague was cautiously hopeful.

"And so there is the opportunity for the international community to be much stronger and to act much more robustly but we can only do that with the agreement of the Russians and the Chinese," said Hague.

Russia, a long-time ally of Syria, has said any solution to the crisis must be decided by the Syrians themselves and has spurned calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. China has taken a similar stance.

Despite the obstacles, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also clung to hope.

"There are already 15,000 people dead since the start of the conflict and it's necessary for the violence to end, to find a political solution. Annan has presented a reasonable plan and I hope we can find an agreement for it. That's the goal of the conference."

Annan again Saturday called for a unity government that would exclude people who jeopardize stability in Syria. His plan does not explicitly say President Assad must give up power.

During talks on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not reach an agreement on how to deal with the rising violence in Syria.

But Lavrov said after the talks in St. Petersburg there is a chance world powers can find common ground on Syria at Saturday's meeting. He said he sensed a change in Clinton's position on the Syria crisis.

Throughout the Syrian crisis, Russia has refused to call for Assad to step down. Syrian opposition groups say they will not accept any political transition plan that lacks an explicit call for Assad to leave office.