Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was skeptical about news that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has agreed to a six-point peace plan proposed by United Nations envoy Kofi Annan.
“Given Assad’s history of over promising and under delivering that commitment must now be matched by immediate actions,” Clinton said at a State Department press conference. “We will judge Assad’s sincerity and seriousness by what he does, not by what he says.”
The peace plan includes demands for a UN-supervised cease- fire, secure access for humanitarian missions and a Syrian-led transition to democracy.
Clinton said that the U.S. and allies would be “working urgently” to lay out the concrete steps they expect to see by April 1, when the so-called “Syria Contact Group” will meet in Istanbul to discuss the ongoing violence.
The Syrian opposition would be expected to take steps as well, Clinton said. Annan has pledged to work with the various groups opposed to Assad “so that the bloodshed ends,” Clinton said.
“I’m hoping that by the time I get to Istanbul on Sunday, we will be in a position to acknowledge steps that the Assad regime and the opposition have both taken,” Clinton said.
The top U.S. diplomat called on the Syrian president to release political prisoners, permit peaceful political activity, allow the news media unfettered access to the country and begin a “legitimate political process that leads to a democratic transition.”
First, though, Clinton said that if Assad really is “ready to bring this dark chapter in Syria’s history to a close, he can prove it by immediately ordering regime forces to stop firing and begin withdrawing from populated areas.”
Annan will brief the Security Council on the peace plan and Assad’s agreement to it on April 2.
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