Arab League foreign ministers Wednesday gave Syria's government three days to agree to end its crackdown on protesters and allow in teams of observers, but did not say what would happen if Damascus failed to comply.
League foreign ministers meeting in the Moroccan capital decided to send the proposal to the Syrian government immediately, the latest in a series of attempts to persuade President Bashar al-Assad to end eight months of bloodshed.
Asked if the proposal was a last-ditch attempt at diplomacy, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim al-Thani told reporters: We do not want to talk about a last-ditch attempt because I do not want this to sound like a warning.
What I can say is that we are close to the end of the road as far as the (Arab League's) efforts on this front are concerned.
A communique issued at the conclusion of the foreign ministers' meeting in Rabat said: Observers are to be sent into Syria if the Syrian government signs the agreement within three days starting today and once the violence and the killing stop.
The observers will make sure Syrian security and pro-government militias do not attack peaceful demonstrations ... (and) will ensure that all armaments are withdrawn from cities and inhabited areas that have witnessed, or are witnessing protests, the communique said.
The Arab League had already proposed sending observers to Syria as part of a roadmap for ending the violence. The Syrian government agreed to the plan earlier this month but it has not been implemented.
At a news conference after the ministers' meeting on Wednesday, Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby said the time was not right to hold a League summit on Syria.
(Reporting by Souhail Karam; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Andrew Roche)