Diplomats Scramble To Save Syria Peace Conference

Diplomats scrambled on Friday to save a peace conference concerning Syria in the face of objections by Russia.

AFP reports Russia, that last major ally of embattled Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, has objected to a proposal which could limit membership of a transitional unity government in Syria, diplomats said. Kofi Annan, UN-Arab League peace envoy, was to convene the meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and the foreign ministers of Britain, China, France, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey.

But western leaders have told Annan that there is no point going ahead with the meeting unless prior agreement can be reached on his proposals for a political transition in Syria.

According to AFP, Annan’s plan “would exclude from government those whose continued presence and participation would undermine the credibility of the transition and jeopardise stability and reconciliation.” By this standard, Assad and others in the government could be kept out of any transitional plan.

“Foreign players should not be dictating their solutions to the Syrians. We do not and cannot support any intervention or solutions dictated from abroad,” Lavrov said, echoing the Russian demand that Syrians be allowed to decide Assad’s fate.

Clinton though, according to UPI, said that any plan supported by the US would be one that protects the rights of Syria’s people.

“You have to have a transition that complies with international standards on human rights, accountable governance, the rule of law, equal opportunity for all people of Syria, and this framework lays out how to arrive at that,” Clinton said.

More than 15,800 people killed since the uprising began in Syria, thousands of whom died even after a ceasefire was supposedly declared.