Syria Accepts UN Envoy's Cease-Fire Plan; Fighting Enters Lebanon

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  • Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan to serve as special envoy on Syrian crsis
    U.N. envoy Kofi Annan said the acceptance by Syria's government of his cease-fire plan is an “important initial step” to ending a deadly crackdown that began in March 2011.
  • Syria - Annan
    U.N. envoy Kofi Annan said the acceptance by Syria's government of his cease-fire plan is an “important initial step” to ending a deadly crackdown that began in March 2011.
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Syria has accepted a peace plan put forward by United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan to abide by a cease-fire agreement, a spokesman for the diplomat said Tuesday.

The Syrian government has written to the Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan accepting his six-point plan, endorsed by the United Nations Security Council, spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said in a statement carried by Al Jazeera and other news outlets.

Mr. Annan views this as an important initial step that could bring an end to the violence and the bloodshed, provide aid to the suffering, and create an environment conducive to a political dialogue that would fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, he said.

News of the apparaent breakthrough follows failed attempts in the U.N. Security Council to formulate a demand that President Bashar al-Assad end a deadly year-old crackdown on dissenters that has killed at least 8,000 civilians, according to U.N. estimates.

Fighting continued Tuesday between pro-Assad troops and rebel forces, even spilling across Syria's border with Lebanon. Buildings inside the neighboring country were destroyed, according to Reuters.

I indicated that I had received a response from the Syrian government and will be making it public today, which is positive, and we hope to work with them to translate it into action, Annan told reporters while on a visit to China.

He was in China -- after a similar diplomatic overture in Russia -- in a bid to persuade Premier Wen Jiabao to support international efforts to halt the violence in Syria.

We've had very good discussions about the situation in Syria. And they have offered me their full support, Annan said of Chinese authorities after his meeting with Wen in Beijing.

This break in the diplomatic stalemate follows a commitment of support from Russia over the weekend, bringing Syria's two top supporters in line with the international community for the first time. China and Russia had vetoed two Security Council measures intended to condemn Assad and punish his regime with further sanctions.

With Russia and China expressing support last week for Annan's plan, it is hoped that Assad's regime may finally heed condemnation of its crackdown and end operations against rebel forces.

According to Annan, who also represents the Arab League, the Syrian acceptance was an important initial step consisting of political discussions, withdrawal of heavy weapons and troops from population centers, humanitarian assistance being allowed in unimpeded, release of prisoners, freedom of movement and access for journalists to go in and out, the Associated Press reported.

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