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Syria under further pressure to grant wider humanitarian access

(Xinhua)

14:14, March 02, 2012

GENEVA/UNITED NATIONS, March 2 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian government was put under further pressure Thursday by the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to allow wider access for humanitarian aid.

Meanwhile, Kofi Annan, the newly appointed special envoy for Syria on behalf of the United Nations and the Arab League (AL), said Thursday he had reached consensus with UN chief Ban Ki-moon and the five permanent members of the Security Council that a mediation process including all political factions in Syria should be started as soon as possible.

Annan will begin his mission on March 7 with a visit to the AL headquarters in Cairo, AL chief Nabil al-Arabi said Thursday.

Annan is seeking a visit to Syria, and will also travel to other countries affecting the Syrian crisis in a bid to find a solution, said al-Arabi.

At a meeting on Thursday in Geneva, the UNHRC adopted a resolution which condemns "the continued widespread and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities."

The resolution, voted 37-3 in favor with three abstentions, held the Assad government as the primary cause of Syria's ongoing crisis.

Russia, China and Cuba voted against the resolution, saying the resolution, which only lopsidedly condemned the authorities, would only fuel fresh violence in the turbulent country.

"Russia believes the resolution does not send constructive signals that are necessary for launching a process of political and diplomatic settlement, nor a call to all sides to stop violence and join the national dialogue," said the Russian foreign ministry in a statement.

In the debate before the voting, China also stressed its stance on the issue, saying both the government and all political parties of Syria must end violence immediately before starting a political dialogue to end the months-long crisis.

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