UN Security Council calls for peace plan in Syria

Updated: 2012-03-22 04:41

By Zhang Yuwei at the United Nations (chinadaily.com.cn)

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The United Nations Security Council, including Russia and China, on Wednesday morning adopted a presidential statement that backed Special Envoy to Syria Kofi Annan's proposal to end the ongoing violence in Syria.

The non-binding statement is backed by the 15 council members including the five permanent members – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The statement calls for the Syrian government and the opposition party to immediately implement the proposals for the "six-point" peace plan outlined by Annan -- including a cease-fire, inclusive political talks and a daily two-hour humanitarian halt to fighting.

Annan presented Syrian President Bashar al-Assad the peace plan when he visited the country early this month.

Li Baodong, Chinese permanent representative to the UN, said the statement adopted on Wednesday "reflects the united voice of the council", and is "a positive step towards a political solution for Syria".

Li said China supports Annan's mediation efforts on the Syrian crisis and hopes the Syrian government to actively support and cooperate with Annan.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called it a "unified action" by the council and he hopes it can mark "a turning point" in the international community's response to the pressing crisis.

France, which proposed the statement, eliminated possible consideration of "further measures" in the two previous resolutions on Syria backed by the European countries and US and vetoed by Russia and China. The statement does say that it will consider "further steps as appropriate."

A presidential statement is one of the three forms applied to make a decision on an issue within the council. It is stronger than a press statement, but not legally binding like a resolution.

It is, however, a document that needs approval from all council members and will become the council's permanent record.

Russia and China vetoed in October and February, calling the earlier resolutions (including the amended one) unbalanced. Both are against a "régime change" in Syria – something that is European and US-backed.

Li said China strictly complies with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and "respects the sovereignty of Syria and the choice of its people".

"No external forces should interfere in Syria by force, or push for 'regime change'," he added.

The UN estimated that more than 8,000 people have been killed since the outbreak of the conflict. UN humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, had a three-day visit to Syria early this month.