Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

Shifts in the propaganda war waged between Israelis and Palestinians

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French MPs face quandary in pro-Palestinian rallies

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Yezid Sayigh, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut

Read more

#TECH 24

Mind the Gender Gap : getting more women into the tech sector

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Bolivian children: heading to work aged 10

Read more

WEB NEWS

Israel and Hamas battle online over public opinion

Read more

FOCUS

Can Chancellor Merkel's winning streak last?

Read more

FOCUS

Hunger in a fertile land...

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria: One Hundred Days and Counting (part 2)

Read more

  • Live: Algerian jet with 116 on board 'crashes' in northern Mali

    Read more

  • ‘Many’ French passengers on board missing Algerian plane

    Read more

  • Iraqi parliament elects moderate Kurd as president

    Read more

  • Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death arrives in Italy

    Read more

  • No end to fighting until Israel ends Gaza blockade, Hamas says

    Read more

  • Two foreign women shot dead in western Afghanistan

    Read more

  • At least 60 killed in attack on prison convoy near Baghdad

    Read more

  • Cycling is ‘winning the war on doping,’ says expert

    Read more

  • Ceasefire agreed for Central African Republic

    Read more

  • Can Jew-kissing-Arab selfie give peace a viral chance?

    Read more

  • In pictures: Thousands march for Gaza peace in Paris

    Read more

  • France charges Swiss bank UBS with tax fraud

    Read more

  • Israel faces heightened diplomatic pressure as Gaza violence rages

    Read more

  • Botched Arizona execution takes nearly two hours

    Read more

  • Bomb attacks leave scores dead in north Nigeria

    Read more

Middle east

Syria takes centre stage at Arab League summit

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-03-29

UN-Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined Arab ministers at a crucial Arab League summit in Iraq’s capital Baghdad on Thursday to discuss a UN-backed peace plan for Syria amid continuing violence in the country.

REUTERS - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met Arab leaders in Baghdad on Thursday to discuss a U.N.-backed peace plan for Syria as President Bashar al-Assad’s forces continued their offensive against cities and towns across Syria.

Regional leaders in Iraq for the Arab League summit have endorsed special envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point plan that calls for a ceasefire and peace talks, but they remain sharply split over how to deal with the violence that risks deepening sectarian divisions.

Syria has accepted Annan’s proposal, but rejects any initiatives taken by the summit and said it would deal only with individual Arab states, complicating efforts to implement the U.N.-backed peace plan on the ground.

“This is an important initial step that could bring an end to the violence and the bloodshed,” Ban said of Syria’s accepting Annan’s plan, before arriving in Baghdad on Thursday.

“I strongly urge President Assad of Syria to put those commitments into immediate effect.”

Arab states, while rejecting any foreign intervention in Syria, appear to have backed away from their initial proposal that Assad step aside to allow his deputy to organise talks.

Sunni powers Saudi Arabia and Qatar have led the push to isolate Syria, including suggests for arming Syria’s opposition, but non-Gulf Arab states such as Algeria and Shi’ite-led Iraq urge more caution, fearing that toppling Assad could spark sectarian violence.

Annan’s proposal calls for the withdrawal of heavy weapons and troops from population centres, humanitarian assistance, the release of prisoners and free movement and access for journalists. But it does not explicitly call for Assad to step down from office.

Diplomats say one of Annan’s ideas is for a U.N. observer mission to monitor any eventual ceasefire, a mechanism likely to require a U.N. Security Council mandate.

An Arab League observation mission in Syria last year failed to end Assad’s crackdown on protests, and faced internal dissent. But the League has also discussed a joint U.N.-Arab mission for Syria.

Even as Arab foreign ministers held talks in Baghdad on Wednesday before Thursday’s summit, Syrian forces bombarded cities and towns in southern and northern Syria, forcing thousands to flee violence.

The United Nations says around 9,000 people have been killed in fighting. Damascus blames foreign-backed terrorists for the violence, saying 3,000 soldiers and police have been killed.

The Arab Summit in Baghdad is the first in Iraq for more than two decades and the first hosted by a Shi’ite Arab leader, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Pulling back from years of war, Iraq hopes to use the summit as a way to highlight its return to the diplomatic stage and has sought a fledging detente with Sunni Gulf Arab nations long wary of Iraq’s close ties to Shi’ite power Iran.

 

Date created : 2012-03-28

  • SYRIA

    Arab League and Russia rule out intervention in Syria

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    Homs under fire after Arab League vows to aid rebels

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    Arab League to ask UN for peacekeeping force in Syria

    Read more

COMMENT(S)