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Syria – new UN initiatives – Annan proposes transitional government, meeting in Geneva

Kofi Annan has redoubled his efforts to avert civil war in Syria where, according to a UN inquiry commission, battles are “increasingly militarised”, with weapons being replenished on both sides. The UN Special Envoy has proposed the institution of a transitional government in Syria made up of supporters of Bashar al-Assad and members of the opposition, which would aim to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. According to diplomatic sources the major powers (Russia, China, U.S., U.K. and France) support the idea, which will be discussed in an emergency meeting of the action group on Syria in Geneva on Saturday.

According to Annan’s proposal, the new government would be a coalition that could include members of the present Syrian government and of opposition groups, but not leaders, whose presence, the diplomatic sources revealed, could compromise the transition and undermine the credibility of this government and efforts at reconciliation.

30 June meeting in Geneva

Annan convened a meeting on 30 June in Geneva of the major powers and Arab countries. Invitees include the foreign ministers of the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council (U.S., Russia, China, France and U.K.), Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar; the Secretaries General of the UN and the Arab League and EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Catherine Ashton. Although Russia insisted on it, Iran was not invited, but Annan announced that Iran would be informed of the results of the meeting because it needed to “stay involved” in the quest for a solution.

Russia gave its consent to changes that might lead to “national understanding” and reform in Syria, its foreign minister Serghei Lavrov announced, specifying however that there was no definitive agreement on Annan’s transition plan. Russia, moreover, “will not support the imposition of an external solution on Syria”.

Italy firmly condemns massive human rights violations

As Minister Terzi explained while on a visit to Lebanon, If “the Security Council were to revise the Annan plan and decide on a more substantial observers mission, Italy would consider it and make its decision”. Meanwhile, speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Italian Ambassador to the International Organisations Laura Mirachian underscored that Italy firmly condemned “the massive human rights violations that continue unceasingly in Syria” and once again urged “the Syrian authorities to put an immediate end to the brutal violence against civilians”.

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