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Mr. Annan will float his proposal during a special session of the
15-nation council on Syria on Thursday, diplomats said on condition of
anonymity. The former UN secretary-general hopes his new idea can
prevent a total collapse of his earlier plan for a truce and negotiated
political solution, they said.
The core of the proposal, diplomats
said, would be the establishment of a contact group that would bring
together Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France and key
regional players with influence on Syria’s government or the opposition,
such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Iran.
By creating such a contact group, envoys said, Mr. Annan would also
be trying to break the deadlock among the five permanent council members
that has pitted veto powers Russia and China against the United States,
Britain and France and prevented any meaningful UN action on the Syrian
conflict, envoys said.
It would attempt to map out a “political
transition” for Syria that would lead to Mr. al-Assad stepping aside and
the holding of free elections, envoys said. One envoy said the idea was
“vaguely similar” to a political transition deal for Yemen that led to
the president’s ouster.
The main point of Mr. Annan’s proposal, they said, is to get Russia to commit to the idea of a Syrian political transition.
In what could be the first step toward the creation of Mr. Annan’s
contact group, Russia’s Mr. Lavrov on Wednesday floated the idea of an
international meeting on the Syrian crisis that would bring together the
prime candidates for Mr. Annan’s proposed contact group, including
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, however, reacted coolly to the idea of including Iran.
It is unclear whether such a grouping would be able to agree on a
plan for Syria, envoys said. In addition to the United States, the
Saudis would have trouble working with the Iranians.
“We are very
far from being ready to create a workable contact group along these
lines,” another senior diplomat said. “But let’s see how Annan words it
in his proposal tomorrow.”
Assad names new Prime Minister
Is that usual or unusual?