Syria Has Accepted Peace Plan, Annan's Spokesman Says
"A spokesman for U.N. envoy Kofi Annan says Syria has accepted his plan to end the bloodshed in the country," The Associated Press reports.
Ahmad Fawzi said the news came in a letter from President Bashar Assad's government to Annan, the former U.N. secretary general who has been trying to broker an end to the Assad regime's crackdown on dissent — which the U.N. estimates has led to the deaths of more than 8,000 people in the past year.
Annan, who is in Beijing for talks with Chinese leaders about the situation in Syria, told reporters that in a meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao, "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," Reuters says.
He added that the six-point plan deals "with issues 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 to journalists to go in and out."
As NPR's Michele Kelemen has reported, the plan was endorsed by the U.N. Security Council last week.
But even as that news is breaking, The New York Times is reporting that there seems to have been " little impact on the ground where Syrian forces were reported by activist groups on Tuesday to be moving against their adversaries in several places from the suburbs of Damascus to the northern province of Idlib." And it says that "fighting was reported to have broken out in this border region of northeast Lebanon on Tuesday between Syrian government troops and rebels."
It's also worth noting that the Assad regime has previously agreed to other peace plans, such as one proposed by the Arab League. But its crackdown on dissent has continued.
Assad, according to a Syrian state-run news agency, is visiting the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs today — a place his forces devastated in recent weeks.
Update at 7:40 a.m. ET. Fawzi's Statement.
Michele Kelemen passes along the statement sent to reporters by Annan's spokesman:
"The Syrian government has written to the Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan accepting his six point plan, endorsed by the United Nations Security Council. Mr. Annan has written to President Assad urging the Syrian government to put its commitments into immediate effect.
"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 fulfil the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.
"Mr. Annan has stressed that implementation will be key, not only for the Syrian people, who are caught in the middle of this tragedy, but also for the region and the international community as a whole. As the Syrian government acts on its commitments, Mr. Annan will move urgently to work with all parties to secure implementation of the plan at all levels.
"The Joint Special Envoy expresses his appreciation for the wide backing he has received for his mediation efforts, and appeals to key countries to support this development and help ensure its effective implementation."