Kofi Annan, special envoy on Syria for the United Nations and the Arab League, warned Friday that the ongoing crisis in unrest-hit Syria requires careful handling to ensure that it does escalate into levels that threaten the stability of the entire Middle East region.
"I think that we need to handle the situation in Syria very, very carefully. Any miscalculation that leads to major escalation will have impact in the region which will be extremely difficult to manage," Annan said Friday.
Annan made the remarks while addressing a press conference held in Geneva after he briefed the UN Security Council via a video-link from his office in the Swiss city about the present situation in Syria as well as the talks he had held with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus last week.
Without detailing the Security Council's response to his briefing, Annan said: "I was encouraged by the very strong support and the determination of the council to work together and I hope pretty soon you'll be hearing one voice from the council."
Stressing that his talks with the Syrian regime as well opposition groups would continue, Annan said he plans to send a team to Syria over the weekend to pursue the discussions on the proposals "we left on the table, and at the appropriate time when I deem sufficient progress has been made, I shall be prepared to go back to the region."
When asked how long he is prepared to wait for resolving the Syrian crisis, the former UN secretary General replied: "As long as you believe the discussions and talks you are having are meaningful, I think you should continue; if you come to the conclusion or make the judgment that it's waste of time or one side is playing for time, you draw the consequences and take appropriate action."
Annan's proposals for resolving the ongoing crisis in Syria include an immediate ceasefire by both sides, access for humanitarian aid and establishing credibility as well as confidence for the political process when it is initiated. The Syrian government has said that it is prepared to co-operate with Annan while continuing to fight "terrorism".
Syria has been witnessing a popular uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, while the government continues to use heavy artillery and armed troops to put down the unrest in Syrian cities and towns. The UN estimates more than 8,000 people have been killed in Syria since the unrest began a year ago.
The Syrian government, however, blames "armed terrorist gangs" backed by Islamists and foreign mercenaries for the violence. The regime claims that about 1,345 of its security personnel have died in the violence and puts the number of civilians killed so far below 2,500.
The UNSC has been divided over its response to the Syrian crisis. China and Russia, had vetoed a West-backed resolution endorsing an Arab League plan for Syria at the UN Security Council (UNSC) on February 4. The move had evoked strong criticisms from the West as well as the Arab nations. Incidentally, the two nations had jointly vetoed a Western resolution condemning repression in Syria in October.
by RTT Staff Writer
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