U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday urged the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad to implement a U.N. Security Council (UNSC) endorsed plan aimed at resolving the crisis in the restive Middle East nation.
"Take this path. Commit to it. Or face increasing pressure and isolation," Clinton told the Syrian regime. She also described the UNSC move to approve the peace plan proposed for Syria as a "positive step" in the right direction.
Her remarks came hours after the 15-member UNSC unanimously approved a six-point peace plan proposed by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, who was appointed Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League for Syria last month, to end the Syrian crisis.
"The Council has now spoken with one voice. It has commanded a U.N.-supervised cessation of violence in all its forms, beginning with a pullback from population centers by the Syrian government and its forces, humanitarian access to all areas in need, and the beginning of a Syrian-led political process to address the legitimate aspirations of all the Syrian people that will lead to a democratic transition," she said.
Asked about the feasibility of enforcing the plan, Clinton said the unanimous support by the UNSC for "this plan will add quite significant import to the discussions" between Annan's team and the Syrian authorities as well as the Opposition.
She said the United States was coordinating with the U.N. on the delivery of humanitarian aid and working with the Syrian Opposition to "strengthen its preparation to participate in the Syrian-led transition process." She said the United States was also attempting to convince the Syrian Opposition fighters not to attack their fellow countrymen and working with the Syrian business community on implementing the plan.
Earlier in the day, the UNSC had unanimously pledged its support to Annan "to bring an end to all violence and human rights violations, secure humanitarian access and facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system."
"The Security Council calls upon the Syrian Government and Opposition to work in good faith with the envoy towards a peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis and to implement fully and immediately his initial six-point proposal," the UNSC statement said, adding that the Council would consider "further steps as appropriate" based on any progress reported by Annan on his mission. It also condemned the recent terror strikes in Damascus and Aleppo.
Earlier this week, Annan said he was sending a team to Syria over the weekend to follow up the proposals he had put before the regime while on a visit to Damascus last week. The Syrian government said it was prepared to co-operate with Annan while continuing to fight "terrorism."
Although a UNSC statement is less forceful than a legally binding resolution, it often acts as a first step toward tougher action. The UNSC statement approved on Wednesday did not condemn the Syrian regime or set a specific timetable for a political transition, apparently to get the support of China and Russia.
China and Russia had vetoed a West-backed resolution endorsing an Arab League plan for Syria when it was put to vote at the UNSC on February 4. Incidentally, the two nations had jointly vetoed a Western resolution condemning repression in Syria in October.
Syria has been witnessing a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad whose government continues to use heavy artillery and armed troops to put down the unrest. According to the United Nations, more than 8,000 people have been killed since the unrest began a year ago. The Assad regime, however, blames "armed terrorist gangs" backed by Islamists and foreign mercenaries for the violence.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: email@example.com