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World, regional powers meet in Geneva to seek halt to Syria violence

06-30-2012 16:59 BJT Special Report:Crisis in Syria |

BEIJING, June 30 (Xinhua) -- World powers and some Arab nations on Saturday gathered in Geneva for a meeting aimed at finding an effective solution to the bloody turmoil in Syria.

UN-Arab League joint envoy Kofi Annan announced on Wednesday that an Action Group for Syria, involving world powers and regional players, would meet on Saturday in Geneva to identify "steps and measures" to secure a full implementation of the peace plan and UN Security Council resolutions 2042 and 2043, including "an immediate cessation of violence in all its forms."

Since landing on the envoy job earlier this year, Annan has travelled intensively, trying to persuade all political factions of the strife-torn Syria and key world powers like Russia and the United States to back his six-point peace plan.

Yet his proposal has largely failed to halt the raging violence and bloodshed on the ground.

In an article published in the Washington Post on Friday, Annan urged all participants in Saturday's meeting to "act in unison" in efforts to address the crisis in Syria.

The envoy lamented that the Syrian situation "could hardly be more grave," and blamed that some countries, "intentionally or otherwise...have encouraged the government and parts of the opposition to believe that force is the only option."

"It is time for all who have influence on the parties, and all who bear responsibility for international peace and security, to act positively for peace," he wrote.

He also expected all parties to agree on a Syrian-led transition roadmap, including a Syrian government of national unity composed of members of the present government and the opposition.

Though the new plan did not explicitly stipulate the departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Annan implied in his article that "those whose continued presence and participation would undermine the credibility of the transition and jeopardize stability and reconciliation would be excluded."

As the international envoy appeals for international unity, the United States and Russia have also been trying to bridge their difference before heading into the meeting.

After hosting his U.S. counterpart Hillary Clinton for private talks on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the press that he noted there was no longer a specific demand for Assad to step down in Washington's approach to the Syrian crisis, adding that he was confident they would have "a very good chance" to produce a result in Geneva.

Lavrov also said it was important for the meeting to make all sides in Syria to agree to a ceasefire and a simultaneous troop withdrawal.

However, Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement posted on its website that Russia was not going to change its position that Syrians themselves should decide the future of their country at the meeting.

Russia also believed that Iran, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan as well as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation should be invited to Geneva, and considered Annan's decision "not optimal", the ministry said.

The question of whether to invite Iran, a long-time ally of Assad, to the Geneva meeting has been debated ever since Annan started to organize the gathering.

The United States has vehemently opposed the idea of including Iran in what Annan calls an "international contact group," while the envoy said he believed Iran should be part of the solution.

Also on Friday, Iran's Ambassador Mohammed Khazaee hit out at the Western powers, "particularly the United States," for ignoring "the power and the influence of Iran."

He said Iran could be a "heavyweight champion" of efforts to bring peace to Syria and raised criticism of his country's exclusion from international talks on Saturday.

"They have to consider that they are talking to a nation and a country that could be a heavyweight champion bringing peace and civility to the region. Syria issue is one of them," Khazaee told reporters.

Iran and Saudi Arabia were high-profile absentees from the list of foreign ministers invited to Saturday's Geneva meeting designed to discuss a transition plan for Syria.

The United States and European nations opposed the presence of Iran, while Russia opposed Saudi Arabia because of its support for the Syrian opposition.

Khazaee said Iran had been "trying to find a solution" in Syria by "helping to end violence, criticizing the foreign powers who, militarily and financially, assist and help opposition groups and some terrorist groups."

He added that Tehran had made "strong recommendations" to the Syrian government to carry out reforms.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview that his organization has no intention to intervene militarily in Syria and wants to see a "peaceful and political" settlement in the turmoil-battered Mideast nation.

Rasmussen said that unlike in Libya where there was a clear United Nations mandate, no international or regional requests have been made so far for NATO to step in, and even the armed opposition groups in the country have refrained from calling for an international military intervention.


Editor:Zhang Rui |Source: Xinhua

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