Syria’s president promised on Thursday to do all he can to ensure U.N. envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan for his country succeeds but demanded that Annan secure a commitment from his rebel opponents to halt violence, state news agency SANA reported.
“President Assad... has informed Annan that Syria approves the plan (the envoy) submitted but had made remarks about it,” SANA said without elaborating.
The agency added that Assad had underlined that he would “spare no effort” to make the six-point plan work.
Annan’s plan includes a commitment to stop all violence, daily two-hour humanitarian ceasefires and media access to all areas affected by the fighting.
It also calls for an inclusive Syrian-led political process, the right to demonstrate, and the release of people detained arbitrarily.
This, however, is the second time Assad has voiced his support for Annan’s plan. On Tuesday, the embattled Syrian president had reportedly agreed to the peace initiative but security force violence and death counts were still reported across the country.
The time in his statement, Assad added that other countries must immediately stop funding and arming opposition groups.
SANA news agency quoted Assad, in a letter to the leaders of the BRIC economic powers, as saying “the countries which support the armed groups with money and weapons must be persuaded to stop this immediately.”
“It is necessary to get a commitment from other parties for armed groups to stop their terrorist acts, to withdraw the weapons of these groups ... and for them to stop ... kidnapping innocent civilians, massacres and the destruction of private and public infrastructure,” Assad’s message added.
The BRICS group of emerging market nations agreed at a summit Thursday that only dialogue can resolve violence in Syria and the crisis over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Indian Premier Manmohan Singh said.
“We agreed that a lasting solution in Syria and Iran can only be found through dialogue,” Singh said in a closing statement at the summit in New Delhi attended by the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
But the United States on Thursday described Assad’s remarks on a peace plan as “discouraging” after the Syrian leader called for an end to “terrorist acts” by foreign powers.
“It’s not surprising, but it’s discouraging and disappointing,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.
Toner again urged Assad to halt the violence immediately, saying that Syrian government forces have done nothing to comply with the plan by international envoy Kofi Annan in the three days since agreeing to it.
“We’ve seen absolutely nothing on the ground that indicates that they’re adhering to its calls for Syrian artillery and heavy weaponry to go back to barracks and for a cease-fire to allow humanitarian assistance to be put in place,” Toner said.
“We’ve been very clear that we want to see a cease-fire in place. We want to see an end to the violence as soon as possible so that we can get humanitarian assistance in to the beleaguered Syrian people,” Toner said.