Annan proposes transitional government for Syria: envoys

 International envoy Kofi Annan has proposed setting up a Syrian transitional government that could include followers of President Bashar al-Assad and opposition members in a bid to end the country's war, diplomats said.

The major powers -- the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia, a key Assad ally -- generally back the plan that will be discussed at a meeting of foreign ministers Annan has convened in Geneva on Saturday, they said.

Annan's blueprint says the interim government could include members of Assad's government and opposition groups, but not officials "whose presence could harm the transition and jeopardize the credibility of the government or undermine efforts to bring reconciliation," according to a summary given by one UN diplomat.

"The language of Annan's plan suggests that Assad could be excluded but also that certain opposition figures could be ruled out," said a second UN diplomat.

The diplomat stressed, however, that there was nothing in Annan's document which automatically excluded Assad, who has been battling a 15-month-old uprising that activists say has left more than 15,000 dead.

The plan is contained in a set of "Guidelines and Principles of a Syrian-led Transition" that Annan sent out to ministers who will be at Saturday's meeting, diplomats said.
The Geneva meeting will be attended by foreign ministers from the major powers -- all permanent members of the UN Security Council -- along with Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq.

"Russia's acceptance of this plan could be a new sign that it is ready to let Assad go," said one diplomat. Another diplomat, however, expressed surprise that Russia would accept any plan under which Assad would be abandoned by its main ally.
Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said there was no guarantee that Annan's document would be agreed to in Geneva.

"Whatever Kofi Annan is going to prepare is going to be basis of discussion for the ministers," Churkin told reporters.

"That does not mean that Russia is going to try to renegotiate everything.

Comments (+)