Brahimi - Syria ceasefire a small step

2012-10-24 18:45
UN peace envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi. (File, AFP)

UN peace envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi. (File, AFP)

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New York - UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi told the UN Security Council Wednesday that a ceasefire in Syria would be a "small step" toward reaching a settlement but he was uncertain whether it would hold, according to diplomats who attended a closed-door meeting.

Brahimi also appealed for unanimous support for his ceasefire efforts, warning the 15-nation council that a new failure among its divided members would cause the 19-month old civil war to spread, the diplomats told AFP.

The former Algerian foreign minister spoke to the Security Council by video from Cairo hours after announcing that Syria has agreed to his plan for a ceasefire during a Muslim holiday this week.

President Bashar Assad's government has tempered optimism by saying it will announce its position by Thursday. The opposition Free Syrian Army has said it will halt hostilities if the government does, but is not optimistic.

Referring to his ceasefire proposal to Assad, Brahimi was quoted as telling the council "I hope a small step can lead to more."

Diplomats inside the meeting said the envoy stressed the lack of trust between the two sides and that he "cannot be certain that a truce will be effective."

Brahimi said he wanted the ceasefire to "help create political space for discussion and let humanitarian assistance flow in."

The envoy said it was essential to get aid to to the stricken Syrian cities of Aleppo, Homs and Idlib.

The Security Council was working on a statement in support of a ceasefire for the four-day Eid al-Adha holiday starting Friday. Diplomats said the statement could be released at the end of the meeting.

Russia, China support Assad

The council remains critically split, however, on international action over the war. Russia, Assad's last main ally, and China have blocked three council resolutions proposed by Western nations which could have led to sanctions against Assad.

Brahimi told the council it was essential that he receive "unambiguous" support for his ceasefire efforts.

"Another failure would lead to the worsening of the conflict and extension to other countries," he told envoys.

Western envoys have all expressed support for a ceasefire initiative.

"We hope the Security Council can send out a strong signal and can rally behind Brahimi," said Germany's UN envoy, Peter Wittig.

Western ambassadors have raised some doubts though that the government will implement an end to the fighting that has raged since Brahimi's talks with Assad.

China's UN ambassador Li Baodong said it was "very important that all parties understand the importance of peace and security in the region. Even if there is a one per cent chance I think we should make a 100% effort."

Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin also gave strong backing to the ceasefire call though he acknowledged Brahimi faced a difficult task having to deal with "too many players and too many spoilers."

- SAPA
Read more on:    un security council  |  bashar assad  |  lakhdar brahimi  |  syria  |  syria conflict
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