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UN chief proposes to scale back Syria observer mission

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-07-07

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recommended Friday that the UN scale back its Syrian observer mission in light of escalating violence and focus instead on finding a political solution to the country’s crisis.

AP - The U.N. could scale back its observer mission in Syria in the face of escalating violence and shift its focus to political engagement, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report submitted to the Security Council Friday.

In a draft of the report obtained by The Associated Press, Ban outlines the benefits of temporarily reducing the force of about 300 U.N. observers, who were sent to Syria to monitor the situation as part of international envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan until fighting subsides.

“A presence which shifts the primary focus to engagement recognizes that without a platform for and confidence in a political process, there is little more UNSMIS can do to urge the parties towards a cessation of violence,” Ban wrote, referring to the observer force by its acronym.

The council is expected to meet Wednesday to review the mission’s mandate, which expires July 20. Annan is expected to attend, and according to the report he will soon return to Syria and other countries in the region.

Meanwhile, at a meeting in Paris Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged world government to pressure Russia and China to use their U.N. veto powers to force Syrian President Bashar Assad into abiding by a cease-fire and the transition strategy unveiled by Annan last week.

Russia and China, which have twice blocked U.N. attempts to sanction Syria, did not attend the meeting.

Also Friday, the U.N.’s top human rights body added to the pressure on Syria with a resolution condemning the violence and demanding that authorities cooperate with a U.N. investigation into “widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights.” The Human Rights Council resolution also calls on Assad’s regime to release all political prisoners and allow independent monitors to visit detention facilities.

On Thursday, the head of the U.N. observer mission in Syria said violence there had reached unprecedented levels and that the mission would be restructured. Norwegian Maj. Gen. Robert Mood insisted a cease-fire was needed in order for his teams to resume their work.

Mood urged both sides of the conflict to have the “moral courage to break out of the cycle of violence” and engage in dialogue.

 

Date created : 2012-07-06

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