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27-03-2012 - Arab News

Arab summit to back Annan's Syria plan-Iraq minister

Bashar Assad to step down at a summit in Iraq on Thursday but will support Syrian-led transfer of power, Iraq's foreign minister said on Monday.

Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said the summit is also expected to endorse a six-point peace proposal by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, which calls for a cease-fire, political dialogue between the government and opposition, and full access for aid agencies.

Assad, who is facing a year-long revolt against his rule, was not invited to the three-day summit.

"There has to be a political solution, fundamental constitutional and political changes for transfer of power in Syria but through a Syrian-led process with the help of the international community, (like) to have an election under international monitoring," Zebari said.

"We are not in a position to dictate to the Syrians what of kind of president, what kind of leader they should have," he told Reuters.

Assad has used the army to crush protests against his 12-year rule. The United Nations says more than 8,000 people have been killed in the crackdown while Syrian authorities blame foreign-backed terrorists for the violence and say 3,000 soldiers and police have been killed.

The opposition rejected Assad's call for dialogue saying it was too late, and said it was impossible to have valid election amid continuing repression.

Russia said it gave Annan's proposal its full backing and that his mission could be the last chance to avoid a protracted and bloody civil war, but would need more time.

"His (Annan's) idea is the one that could create consensus because the next step if the Syrians do not respond would be another security council resolution - very tough wording," Zebari said.

Assad's crackdown has angered Arab countries including former ally Qatar, which together with Saudi Arabia has called for arming the opposition.

Zebari said this would deepen the divisions and escalate violence. He also said he did not think there was international appetite for foreign military intervention in the conflict.

"I don't see it, up to now I don't see it... not this year at least."


Other sources on GCC civil society and human rights