|Date: 08/05/2012 Time: 10:32:00 PM
The UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for
Syria Kofi Annan is scheduled to visit Syria very soon to open a political
dialogue between the leadership and the opposition despite the continued
violence, British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant announced on Tuesday.
"I think he (Annan) has plans to visit Damascus before too long and
obviously will be focusing on when and how a political dialogue will be
launched (between the government and the opposition,)" Grant told reporters
following a closed-door briefing by Annan to Security Council members.
The Council was also briefed by Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping
Operations Herbe Ladsous who gave an update on the build-up of military
observers and civilian staff now on the ground in Syria.
Ladsous said there are 60 military observers on the ground and 37 civilian
staff, with a view to having more than a 100 military observers by the end of
the week and the full authorized 300 complement by the end of the month.
Grant described Annan's briefing as "somber."
"Despite some limited reduction in the use of heavy weapons and the
alleviation of violence in areas where the military observers were actually
present, it was quite clear from the briefing that none of the commitments
that the government has made under the six-point plan have been fully
implemented," Grant said.
He noted that the government continues to commit human rights abuses,
obstruct the deployment of the observers, refuse them visas, detain
protesters, refuse humanitarian access, and prevent peaceful assembly.
"So, we're some way, clearly, from having the right sort of environment
where a political dialogue leading to a transition can start. Nonetheless
there was full support expressed by all members of the Council to Mr Kofi
Annan and his efforts," Grant said.
In answer to a question, he said the Council did not talk about setting a
deadline for Annan, "he himself emphasized the need for speed, and the faster
the military observers can get deployed, the more chance there is to bring
down the levels of violence, and the quicker political dialogue can start."
US Ambassador Susan Rice also described the situation in Syria as "dire"
and said the regime had failed to comply fully with any of the six points in
the Annan peace plan.
She declined to say the mission has failed and reiterated US readiness to
seek "other means" of forcing Assad to lay down the weapons once Annan's plan
is declared unsuccessful.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters "there is support for
Annan's plan coming from everybody. I think things are moving on in a positive
direction. Many obstacles, but I think they can be overcome."