28 Mar 2012

Syrian government accepts peace plan

6:09 am on 28 March 2012

United Nations-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan says Syria has accepted a six-point peace plan backed by the UN Security Council.

Mr Annan, who is in China to get Beijing's support for the peace plan, says the Syrian government's agreement is an important initial step that could end the violence which began in March last year.

He says it would also create an environment conducive to a political dialogue that would fulfil the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.

Mr Annan thanked countries that have supported his attempts to mediate in the conflict, the BBC reports.

At the weekend Russia also offered its support. The two countries had been heavily criticised after vetoing two UN Security Council resolutions condemning the violence.

Mr Annan's six-point plan calls for President Bashar al-Assad's government to pull troops and heavy weapons out of population centres, and for all parties to allow for a daily two-hour pause to the fighting in order for humanitarian aid to reach affected areas.

The plan also requests that the authorities release those detained in the uprising. However, it does not impose any deadline for Mr Assad, or call for him to leave power.

The main opposition coalition is sceptical and has questioned whether the Syrian government will honour its pledge.

Meanwhile, the UN said more than 9000 people had been killed in the uprising.

Robert Serry, the Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, told the Security Council that violence on the ground had "continued unabated".