Syrian President Bashar Assad has accepted the six-point plan of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan and agreed to start implementing it, diplomats here said.
Mr Anann on Monday appealed to the 15-member UN Security Council in a video conference from Geneva to support the April 10 deadline which he said had been accepted by Mr Assad, diplomats who attended briefing by the former UN chief told reporters.
The partial implementation of Mr Annan’s plan would include a full cessation of hostilities within 48 hours of the deadline, the diplomats here said.
Damascus would start by halting the movement of troops into cities, withdraw heavy weapons from cities and start pulling forces back, as stipulated in the plan. But the United States and other western nations are sceptical that Syria will keep to its promise to start implementing the plan by April 10.
US envoy Susan Rice told reporters at a press conference. “Past experience would lead us to be sceptical and to worry that over the next several days, that rather than a diminution of the violence we might yet again see an escalation of the violence,” she told reporters.
Besides a humanitarian ceasefire, Mr Annan’s plan also calls for an inclusive Syrian-led political process, the right to demonstrate and the release of people detained arbitrarily.
The former UN chief said the Security Council had to start considering the deployment of an observer mission with a broad mandate to monitor events in Syria where the UN says more than 9,000 people have been killed over the past year.
Russia has rejected the idea of a deadline, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying “ultimatums and artificial deadlines rarely help matters”.
He said only the UN Security Council could put any time restrictions on Syria’s compliance with the Annan plan.
“The demands should be put to all sides of the barricades,” Mr Lavrov said.
“We intend to be friends with both sides in Syria,” he said.