U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday agreed working together to find a solution to the Syrian crisis, a U.S. official said, as Arab leaders meeting in Cairo demanded stronger U.N. measures against the regime in Damascus.
“Her message to him was: ‘we’ve got to start working together to help the Syrians with Syria’s political transition strategy. And I want our people to work together on ideas in Moscow, Europe, in Washington, wherever we need to’,” the official said, following a phone conversation between Clinton and Lavrov.
Arab ministers, meanwhile, called for U.N. action amid growing concern that envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan is failing and the country is descending into all-out civil war.
The ministers urged the “Security Council to assume responsibilities according to the U.N. charter, and take all necessary measures to secure the full and immediate implementation of the plan of the joint envoy, Kofi Annan, in a set timeframe,” in a statement at the end of the meeting.
These actions include “imposing the implementation of the six points of the plan through resorting to Chapter VII of the U.N. charter,” it said, listing the non-military measures provided for in Article 41 of the chapter.
Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi told reporters the ministers “did not request a military action.”
Earlier, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani urged Annan to set a timeframe for his Syria peace mission, and asked the Security Council to apply Chapter VII.
“We request Mr. Annan to set a timeframe for his mission because it is unacceptable that massacres and bloodshed continue while the mission is ongoing indefinitely,” the Qatari premier told a meeting attended by Annan.
“We demand the U.N. Security Council to refer the six-point (Annan plan) to Chapter VII so that the international community could assume its responsibilities,” he said.
Chapter VII outlines action the Security Council might take, including military force, in response to threats to international peace, breaches of the peace and acts of aggression.
The Qatari premier, whose country has been at the forefront of mobilizing international action against Syria over its 15-month deadly crackdown on dissent, said Damascus “makes a mistake in betting on surviving this way.”