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Over Cease-Fire:

UN to vote Saturday on 1st observers for Syria

The U.N. Security Council has scheduled a vote Saturday on a resolution authorizing the deployment of the first wave of U.N. military observers to monitor a cease-fire between the Syrian government and opposition fighters which appears to be largely holding.
UN to vote Saturday on 1st observers for Syria
The draft resolution, obtained Friday night by The Associated Press, calls on both sides to immediately "cease all armed violence in all its forms" and calls on the Syrian government "to implement visibly" international envoy Kofi Annan's demand that it pull troops and heavy weapons out of cities and towns.

Security Council members met behind closed doors for several hours Friday to discuss rival drafts by the U.S. and its European allies and by Russia, Syria's most important council ally.

Both called for the deployment of an advance team of up to 30 unarmed military observers to initiate contacts with both sides and begin to report on implementation of "a full cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties" — and so does the final text.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, the current council president, announced that the council will vote at 11 a.m. EDT (1600 GMT) Saturday.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said he was waiting to see the final draft but told reporters, "I'm not completely satisfied with the outcome of the discussion."

Churkin stressed, however, that "We want it to be a vote which will keep the Security Council united, which is crucial." 

Rice refused to predict how Russia would vote on Saturday, saying, "We've been to this movie so many times, let's not."

Annan's spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told a news conference in Geneva that an advance team of "around 10 or 12" observers, that could quickly be increased to 30, is "standing by to board planes and to get themselves on the ground as soon as possible" once the Security Council approves their deployment.

Troops already in the region from Asian, African and South American countries acceptable to Assad's regime could be used for the mission, Fawzi said.

The draft resolution to be voted on — sponsored by the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, Colombia and Morocco — expresses the council's intention to immediately establish a larger U.N. supervision mission in Syria to monitor a cease-fire. Fawzi said additional Security Council approval will be required to increase the deployment to 250 observers.

While the resolution would only authorize a 30-strong advance team, it would spell out requirements for the Syrian government to support the observers including allowing the observers unimpeded freedom of movement and the right to interview any Syrian in private.

Russia's Churkin eliminated them in his proposed text, but they remain in the final draft being put to a vote.

Annan, the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy, asked the 15-nation Security Council to approve sending a U.N. observer mission as soon as possible.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon cautioned Friday against overly high expectations, given the small size of the initial team and the fact that it would not be able to be everywhere, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

Syrian U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari told reporters Friday that before any observers can be deployed, there would have to be a technical agreement on how the U.N. force will operate, Annan would have to make an independent report on the situation in Syria, and the Syrian government would have to approve the whole package.
Saturday 14 April 2012 12:33
Story Code: 39810
Source : Afghan Voice Agency (AVA), International Service
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