Paris Meeting to Raise Pressure on Syria, Ban Urges Expanded Observers Mission

Foreign ministers of 14 countries meet on Thursday in Paris in order to intensify the pressure on Syria, as the United Nations Chief calls for expanded UN ceasefire observation mission in the country.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and 13 fellow foreign ministers are to hold Syria talks, which France says will send a “strong” call to the regime to abide by a peace plan.

Announcing the meeting, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the foreign ministers of the United States, Germany, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar and Saudi Arabia would be among those taking part in the meeting
The assembled ministers would send Damascus “a message of firmness and support for Kofi Annan”, the joint UN-Arab League envoy pushing the peace plan in Syria, Juppe added.

“The obstacles to the UN observers’ mission that Damascus is putting in place and the Syrian regime’s continued repression, contrary to its commitments, calls for a strong reaction from the international community”.

Asked if Russia would attend, foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said the meeting “is not a substitute for the work of the (UN) Security Council”, so not all council members had been invited.

Expanded Mission

Earlier on Wednesday, UN leader Ban Ki-moon said he wanted 300 unarmed observers to be sent on a three-month mission, in a report to the UN Security Council that also said it was “critical” for President Bashar al-Assad to carry out his commitments.

The report said “an opportunity for progress may now exist, on which we need to build.”
The 300 observers would deploy over several weeks and go to about 10 different parts of Syria to monitor the fragile cessation of hostilities started on April 12.

They would also monitor the implementation of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan, which Syrian authorities have agreed to support.
Ban said the proposed mission would “greatly contribute to observing and upholding the commitment of the parties to a cessation of armed violence in all its forms.”

The report will be discussed by the Security Council on Thursday and diplomats said a resolution allowing the full observer mission could be ready by early next week if there is agreement among the 15 members.

Ban added that violence “dropped markedly” when the ceasefire began, but that Syria “has yet to fully implement its initial obligations regarding the actions and deployments of its troops and heavy weapons, or to return them to barracks.

At the moment there are eight observers in Syria, led by a Moroccan colonel. The full mission would be led by an officer of at least the rank of major general

Source: Al Manar

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