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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia Prepared to Back Annan's Syria Plan

March 20, 2012

VOA News

Russia said it is prepared to support a U.N. Security Council resolution that would endorse a peace plan for Syria drafted by international envoy Kofi Annan.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday the Security Council should support Annan's continuing efforts to achieve agreement between all Syrians engaged in the country's year-long unrest. But Lavrov said any such resolution should not impose an ultimatum on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a longtime Russian ally.

Annan sent a five-member team of international experts to Syria on Sunday to try to secure a cease-fire between the government and rebel forces and start a national dialogue aimed at resolving the country's conflict. Few details of Mr. Annan's peace plan have been announced.

The U.N. Security Council meets later Tuesday in New York to debate a French draft statement that backs Mr. Annan's peace efforts but also calls for possible "further measures" if the Syrian government rejects them.

China and Russia have twice vetoed earlier Security Council proposals on Syria, saying the Western and Arab-backed measures amounted to interference in the country's internal affairs.

Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the situation in Syria has become "unacceptable" and "intolerable." Mr. Ban made the comments in Bogor, Indonesia, in response to a VOA Indonesian service reporter's question at a joint news conference with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

"We have no time to waste, no time to lose. Just one minute or one hour of delay will mean that more and more people death," said Ban. "This is our moral and critical responsibility for the international community. As the secretary-general of the United Nations, this is a top, most important at this time."

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

New York-based Human Rights Watch issued a public letter to the Syrian National Council and other opposition groups Monday, saying armed opposition members have committed serious abuses. The group said the abuses included the kidnapping, detention and torture of government supporters, and members of both pro-government militias and government security forces.

It called on the opposition to condemn such acts and "forbid their members from carrying out abuses."

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.



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