Violence continues in Syria despite diplomatic efforts

Prime Minister Erdoğan addresses foreign ministers from dozens of countries who gathered to set conditions for a new Syria, urging the opposition to offer an alternative to the Assad regime. (PHOTOSUNDAY’S ZAMAN, Onur Çoban)

April 08, 2012, Sunday/ 13:07:00

Violence has not been stopped in Syria despite the diplomatic efforts to solve the crisis politically. Arrests and killings continue in Syria, although the Syrian government agreed to implement parts of Kofi Annan’s six-point plan.

The Syrian government had accepted the six-point plan earlier, calling for the withdrawal of heavy weapons and troops from population centers. However, opposition activists accused the government forces of bombarding rebel areas, though Russia said Syrian forces had begun withdrawing from cities and towns in accordance with the peace plan of Annan.

A communiqué issued on Sunday by a meeting of mainly Arab and Western governments in İstanbul gives full support to UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan while stressing that it cannot be open-ended. Foreign dignitaries from 83 nations issued the declaration in İstanbul on Sunday during the second meeting of the “Friends of Syria,” where leaders discussed the UN-Arab League cease-fire plan amid protests from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Syria’s opposition that the plan is buying time for the Syrian regime.

“The legitimate demands of the Syrian people must be met, right here, right now,” Erdoğan told the assembly during his opening remarks. “There is a strong probability that Assad, who has pledged to the international community to end the brutality, will use the UN plan in order to buy more time. We believe that a plan which would convene oppressors and the oppressed at the same table would be manipulated by the Syrian regime to continue the violence,” he stated. Other members on Sunday signaled their support for the six-point peace plan, with Arab League chief Nabil al-Araby saying that the council’s “first priority” should be ensuring the implementation of “any measure which will stop the flow of blood.”

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