Arab leaders and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Syrian President Bashar al- Assad to act immediately on a UN plan to end violence in his country that threatens to spread through the region.
“We assert the necessity of an immediate and complete implementation” of the six-point United Nations plan, according to an e-mailed declaration issued after the Arab League’s annual summit meeting in Baghdad today. The organization called for a peaceful solution to the crisis and rejected any foreign intervention in Syria.
“We offer our complete support for the aspirations and the legitimate demands of the Syrian people for freedom, democracy, their right to decide their own future and the peaceful transfer of power,” according to the Baghdad Declaration.
The international community should send arms to the Syrian opposition because the Assad regime is “criminal” and will not heed the Arab League declaration or implement the UN peace plan, Haytham al-Maleh, an opposition leader, said in an interview with Al Arabiya television from Istanbul.
Assad should implement the UN-backed plan to end the violence because it may become a danger for the region, Ban said. The Syrian opposition also should cooperate with Kofi Annan, the UN and Arab League envoy for Syria, he said.
On March 27, Syria accepted the six-point UN peace plan that includes demands for a UN-supervised cease-fire, secure access for humanitarian missions and a Syrian-led transition to democracy. Syrian security forces killed 43 people today, Al Arabiya television reported. The UN said on March 27 that more than 9,000 people have been killed in the yearlong conflict.
Arab leaders should adopt a firm stance to end the government’s “annihilation” campaign to crush domestic protests, said Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the head of Libya’s National Transitional Council. He also pressed Arab governments to safeguard Libyan money and investment and hand over wanted people from the regime of former leader Muammar Qaddafi, one of four longstanding Arab leaders who were ousted by popular protests in the region since last year.
The opening of the summit was marred by explosions in the Iraqi capital and by mostly low-ranking participants, with just 10 of 21 invited heads of state from the Arab League. Among the oil-rich Gulf powerhouses, only Kuwait’s emir is attending the summit, becoming his country’s first head of state to visit Iraq since 1990, when Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s forces invaded Kuwait.
Iraqi leaders intended to use the one-day gathering to mark their nation’s return as a prominent member of the Arab world. Attendance was hurt by Iraq’s political chaos, continued violence and differences with its neighbors and the U.S.
Syria, which has been suspended from the Arab League, wasn’t invited to the summit.
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