Syria reply to Annan expected Tuesday: diplomats

Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad has until Tuesday to give a response to peace proposals made by UN envoy Kofi Annan, diplomats said.

Annan said on leaving Damascus that he had made "concrete proposals" to Assad on ending the killing in Syria and securing humanitarian access to protest cities.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Monday that the Syrian president had agreed to give an answer within "48 hours" to Annan who left Damascus on Sunday following his second meeting with Assad.

Diplomatic sources later confirmed that a response was expected by early Tuesday.

Juppe said that if Assad reacted, the UN Security Council members would resume talks on a resolution condemning the Syrian government's deadly campaign, which the UN says has left more than 7,500 dead in the past year.

The French minister said there were still two key problems in the resolution discussions with Russia and China, which have vetoed two resolutions on Syria in the past six months.

France refuses to put the government's attacks and the violence by opposition groups "on the same level", he said.

The resolution must also refer to a political solution based on an Arab League plan adopted in January. The Arab League plan calls for Assad to hand over power to a deputy.

Juppe said China's position on Syria was changing "millimeter by millimeter."

"Some Chinese statements seem to show that China is starting to have second thoughts (but) for the moment this has not become concrete," the French minister said.

Juppe held talks with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in New York but indicated he saw little change.

"I want to have reasons to hope but I will have to try very hard," he said. "Maybe there is a little movement."

Source: AFP

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