Annan Invites Major Powers to Syria Pow-Wow
UN special envoy Kofi Annan confirmed Wednesday that a ministerial level action group on Syria will meet at the United Nations in Geneva on Saturday.
In a statement, Annan said he had invited foreign ministers from the five major powers – Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States – as well as Turkey, the European Union, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar.
However, Annan made no mention of Iran, which currently at loggerheads with the West over its controversial nuclear program.
Iran, a close ally of increasingly isolated Syria, is considered by many to be critical to a successful diplomatic solution to the 16-month revolt rocking the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
“The objectives of the Action Group for Syria are to identify steps and measures to secure full implementation of the six-point plan ... including an immediate cessation of violence in all its forms,” Annan said in the statement.
Annan, whose peace plan for Syria has so far failed to halt the bloodshed, is working with foreign governments and all sides in the war to bring about a peaceful and comprehensive settlement, his deputy Jean-Marie Guehenno said.
“But this effort cannot be open-ended. Time is running out. Syria is spiraling into deeper and more destructive violence,” Guehenno told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
At the moment, “all sides appear to not believe in the possibility of a political solution,” he said.
“The opposition remains divided between those who favor a peaceful political solution, those who reject any understanding with the government, and those who support continued armed resistance,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Turkish prime minister said Wednesday that his country is not going to war with neighboring Syria over the shooting down of a Turkish warplane, but analysts expect a higher risk of clashes on the border.
Days after the Phantom F-4 jet was brought down by Syrian defenses, leaving its two crew members missing, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey has no hostile intent towards any country.
“As Turkey, we have no intention of attacking” Syria, he said during a military ceremony in Ankara.
Wednesday’s newspapers headlined Ankara’s hardening attitude, with the Milliyet daily saying, “Syria is now a de facto enemy.”