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G8 sees Syria ceasefire as "important step": Clinton

(Xinhua)

09:46, April 13, 2012

WASHINGTON, April 12 (Xinhua) -- Foreign ministers from the Group of Eight (G8) welcomed the ceasefire between the Syrian government forces and the opposition, and viewed the development as an "important step," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Thursday.

"We welcomed Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan's report that the violence in Syria, at least for the moment, has abated," said Clinton after the meeting of G8 foreign ministers.

"If it holds, a ceasefire is an important step, but it represents just one element of the special envoy's plan," she said.

"The Annan plan is not a menu of options, it is a set of obligations," she noted, urging the Syrian government to implement all elements of the peace plan proposed by UN-Arab League joint envoy Kofi Annan.

"For it to be meaningful, this apparent halt in violence must lead to a credible political process and a peaceful, inclusive democratic transition," the chief U.S. diplomat said.

Clinton also voiced the U.S. support for the deployment of UN observers to monitor the implementation of the peace plan in Syria.

"The United States supports sending an advance team immediately to begin this work." she said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday that the situation in Syria "looks calmer" as of Thursday afternoon, the first day of UN-mediated ceasefire in Syria.

Meanwhile, Annan said in a statement on Thursday morning that he is " encouraged" by reports that the cessation of hostilities in Syria "appears to be holding," and urged all Syrians to seize opportunity to implement the agreed six-point peace plan.

Annan had previously stated that once the Syrian government completes the troop withdrawal by April 10, all parties should move immediately to cease all forms of violence, so that a complete cessation is in place by April 12.

The UN estimates that some 9,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed, and tens of thousands have been displaced since protests in Syria broke out in March last year.

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