UN Security Council Endorses Syria Peace Plan

Posted March 21st, 2012 at 9:10 am (UTC-5)
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The United Nations Security Council has adopted a presidential statement supporting U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's plan to try to end Syria's year-long unrest.

The statement says Syria will face “further steps” if Mr. Annan's six-point peace proposal is rejected. The plan calls for a cease-fire, political dialogue between the government and opposition, and access for humanitarian aid agencies

VOA's U.N. correspondent says the New York-based council's 15 members including Russia and China agreed on the statement by consensus at 10 a.m. local time, an hour after a deadline expired for potential objections to the language.

The French-drafted presidential statement, whose text was obtained earlier by VOA, expresses “gravest concern” about the deteriorating situation in Syria and says it has resulted in a “serious human rights crisis and a deplorable humanitarian situation.” It also gives “full support” to Mr. Annan's efforts to bring an “immediate end to all violence and human rights violations” in Syria.

The Security Council statement calls for Mr. Annan to report back to the council in a “timely manner,” after which member states will consider “further steps as appropriate.”

Russia and China previously had used their Security Council vetoes to block two Western and Arab-drafted resolutions that would have condemned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's deadly crackdown on an opposition uprising.

Hours earlier, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the world has a responsibility to resolve what he called an “extremely dangerous situation” in Syria. Speaking on a visit to Jakarta, he said the crisis has “potentially massive repercussions for the region.”

Mr. Annan sent a five-member team of international experts to Syria on Sunday to try to secure a cease-fire between government and rebel forces leading an uprising against President Assad's 11-year autocratic rule. Mr. Annan discussed his peace plan with Mr. Assad in Damascus earlier this month, but has said little about it since.

Syrian activists say government troops shelled several opposition hubs across the country on Tuesday, killing at least 30 people in the central regions of Homs, Hama and elsewhere.

The United Nations says at least 8,000 people have been killed in the Assad government's violent crackdown on the revolt, which began with peaceful protests and became increasingly militarized as army defectors attacked pro-Assad troops who assaulted civilians.