Ban Ki-moon hopes U.N. statement on Syria proves to be ‘turning point’

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (L), seen here with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razzak, has repeated his calls for ending the violence in Syria. (Reuters)

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday he hoped a new statement approved by the Security Council on the Syria crisis will prove a “turning point” in world efforts to bring about a lasting peace.

The U.N. Secretary-General was speaking in Malaysia a day after the 15-nation council adopted a statement demanding that Syria “immediately” implement a peace plan proposed by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan and gave a veiled warning of international action.

“As the situation on the ground continues to deteriorate, it is more urgent than ever to find a solution,” the United Nations Secretary-General said in a speech in Kuala Lumpur.

“I hope that this strong and united action by the council will mark a turning point in the international community’s response to the crisis,” he said, echoing comments made by his spokesman after the statement was adopted.

“In clear and unmistakable terms, the Security Council called for an immediate end to all violence and human rights violations,” he said. “It demanded secure humanitarian access and a comprehensive political dialogue between the government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition.”

Meanwhile, Syria’s main opposition group on Thursday said a U.N. statement calling for all parties to end violence in Syria will simply give the regime more time to continue killing its own people.

“Such statements, issued amid continued killings, offer the regime the opportunity to push ahead with its repression in order to crush the revolt by the Syrian people,” said Samir Nashar, member of the executive committee of the Syrian National Council.

In related news, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday sent out a warning to Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad to carry out a U.N. plan to secure peace in the crisis-swept country or face “increasing pressure.”

“To President Assad and his regime, we say, along with the rest of the international community, take this path, commit to it, or face increasing pressure and isolation,” Clinton told reporters.

The U.S. official spoke after a United Nations statement was released a statement calling on “the Syrian government and opposition to work in good faith with the envoy towards a peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis and to implement fully and immediately his initial six-point proposal.”

The U.N. says well over 8,000 people have been killed in Syria in the past year as Assad’s government has sought to crush a popular revolt.

Following intense negotiations among the major U.N. powers, Russia and China signed up to the Western-drafted text which calls on Assad to work toward a cessation of hostilities and a democratic transition.

Russia and China have vetoed two Security Council resolutions on Syria that were backed by the United States and Europe, saying they were unbalanced.

The statement, which carries less weight than a formal resolution, gives strong backing to a six-point plan that Annan, the former U.N. secretary-general, put to Assad during talks in Damascus this month.

Ban said the statement called for an immediate end to violence and human rights violations “in clear and unmistakable terms.”

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