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UN-Arab League envoy says Syria plan not being implemented

By  William M. Reilly (Xinhua)

08:31, June 08, 2012

UNITED NATIONS, June 7 (Xinhua) -- UN and Arab League joint envoy for Syria Kofi Annan told Thursday the UN General Assembly that his six-point proposal to halt the violence in Syria is not being implemented.

His blunt and disappointing assessment was no surprise.

It followed reports of yet another alleged massacre in the country torn by violence for the last 15 months and statements condemning such violence by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby.

Ban and Elaraby three months ago handed what Annan called the " tough job" of leading an effort to stop the killing and violence " and launch a political process for a transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people."

The three principals were followed by remarks from representatives of more than two dozen of the General Assembly's 193 members condemning the killings and calling for implementation of the Annan plan.

"Despite the acceptance of the six-point plan and the deployment of a courageous mission of United Nations observers to Syria, I must be frank and confirm that the plan is not being implemented," Annan, a former UN secretary-general, said.

He then paused to condemn "a new massacre of tens of civilians including children and women" Wednesday in Al-Qubayr, west of Hama.

It occurred just two weeks after "the massacre at El-Houla that shocked the world" when more than 100 civilians were slain.

More than 70 people, half of them women and children, reportedly were killed in Al-Qubayr.

"We cannot allow mass killing to become part of everyday reality in Syria," Annan said.

Recounting his meeting late last month with the Syrian president, Annan said he urged Bashar al-Assad "to change his military posture and honor his commitments to the six-point plan."

The plan, widely backed by the international community and accepted by the Syrian government, calls for the withdrawal of heavy weapons and troops from population centers, a daily halt in fighting for the delivery of humanitarian aid and treatment for the wounded, as well as talks between the government and opposition.

While Annan kept the diplomatic gloves on, Ban, the current secretary-general, sounded like he was taking his off.

"For many months, it has been evident that President Assad and his government have lost all legitimacy," Ban said.

Ban said UN monitors were denied access to the scene of the latest atrocities and "while trying to do so, the UN monitors were shot at with small arms." He did not say who fired.

But his displeasure was not reserved only for the Syrian government.

"For their part, many elements of the opposition have unfortunately turned to arms and declared that they will no longer respect the plan," Ban said. "I call on all (UN) member states to exert their maximum influence -- with both sides."

"Syria and the region can quickly move from tipping point to breaking point. The dangers of full-scale civil war are imminent and real," Ban said.

Elaraby said that the Arab League does not call for the Security Council to resort to the use of force or military options, but rather for using political, economic and commercial pressures enshrined in the UN Charter."

"I call for backing and supporting the measures incorporated in the six points to end this crisis and to achieve a peaceful, political solution that will enable the Syrian people to live in freedom and democracy," he said. "It is not acceptable, ethically, that the Syrian people continue to suffer."

Ambassador Li Baodong, the permanent representative of China to the United Nations, joined in the call to end violence and for all parties to honor commitments to the six-point Annan plan and to respect the UN observer mission.

At the same time he said Beijing "resolutely" opposes outside armed intervention "or any attempt to forcibly promote regime change."

This is in line with China's long-standing stated policy of non- intervention in the domestic affairs of other nations.

China and Russia blocked UN Security Council attempts to intervene in the crisis.

Li's message was also voiced by several nations at the council. Brazil's permanent representative, Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, was among them.

"The International community must stand united behind the ( Annan) plan and refrain from actions that might increase violence or prolong the conflict," she said.

"No legitimate purpose will be truly served by further violence and destabilization in Syria," she said.

Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee of Iran, referring to the alleged massacres, called on the world body to "condemn this terrorist act by terrorist groups and before rushing to any judgment that the Syrian government is behind the killings and therefore the Kofi Annan's plan is dead, we have to wait for the investigations to be complete."

He added, "There is also an urgent need for all those who are providing money, logistics and arms to the opposition groups to stop that immediately. They should know that the smoke from the fire in Syria will, in one way or another, pollute the region as a whole."

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