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Annan’s team urges swift deployment of Syria observers

NEW YORK, April 19 — UN-Arab League mediator Kofi Annan’s deputy told the Security Council TOday that the swift deployment of more observers to Syria was needed despite continued risks and persistent violence, council diplomats told Reuters.

Jean-Marie Guehenno told the 15-nation council that deploying more unarmed military observers “would have a potential to change the political dynamics on the ground,” a diplomat said on condition of anonymity. Another envoy confirmed the remarks.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the council yesterday that Syria has not fully complied with Annan’s six-point peace plan but outlined plans for an “initial deployment” of up to 300 observers to Syria for three months to supervise a fragile truce between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and opposition fighters seeking to oust him.

Diplomats had said that Ban’s letter and Guehenno would be crucial in determining whether the conditions are right for deploying a larger monitoring mission to Syria, where Assad’s 13-month assault on pro-democracy demonstrators sparked an uprising that has brought the nation to the brink of civil war.

US and European diplomats on the council have suggested that Syria‘s lack of full compliance with its obligations to end the violence might make them reluctant to approve a new resolution that would be needed to deploy an expanded mission.

However, envoys said it would be difficult to reject Annan’s request to quickly augment the advance team of a handful of UN observers who headed to Syria after the Security Council passed a resolution on Saturday authorising their deployment.

“There’s broad agreement among council members that we should be ready to authorise a full-fledged mission, but real concerns (exist) about the conditions for its deployment being met, so that mission is on right track and doesn’t suffer a fate familiar from other missions,” a diplomat told Reuters.

An earlier Arab League monitoring mission ended in failure and the team pulled out of Syria.

“Also there’s clearly not a sustained cessation of violence as required under (Saturday’s) resolution, still tanks and heavy artillery deployed, and violence up to pre-early-April surge levels,” the envoy said. “Hence, there’s much stress on the importance of moving ahead on all aspects of Annan plan.”

Annan’s peace plan calls for an end to fighting by government security forces and rebels, withdrawal of heavy weapons from towns, return of the army to barracks, humanitarian access and dialogue between the government and opposition aimed at a “political transition” for the country. — Reuters

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