Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to implement a six-point plan put forward recently to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in the country.
“I strongly urge President Assad of Syria to put those commitments into immediate effect. There is no time to waste,” Mr. Ban said at a press briefing in Kuwait City.
The Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria, Kofi Annan, submitted the plan during his visit to Damascus earlier this month. It seeks to stop the violence and the killing, give access to humanitarian agencies, release detainees, and kick-start an inclusive political dialogue.
The UN estimates that more than 8,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed and tens of thousands displaced since the protests – part of the broader Arab Spring movement across North Africa and the Middle East – began in March last year.
Mr. Ban told reporters that he remains deeply concerned about the continuing conflict, and stressed that the upcoming League of Arab States summit in Baghdad, Iraq, will take place at “a crucial time” to discuss the situation in Syria with key stakeholders in the region.
“I am going to meet with key leaders in Baghdad and discuss with them how the United Nations and the League of Arab States can work together in helping Joint Special Envoys in [their] efforts to get these six-point proposals implemented as was pledged by President Assad,” Mr. Ban said.
The Secretary-General underlined that the summit would provide an opportunity for leaders to discuss recent events in the region, particularly in the wake of the Arab Spring.
“Most countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya – they have succeeded in realizing the aspirations and the dreams of people toward a more participatory and fuller democracy. But still, the challenges are huge,” Mr. Ban said. “There are a lot of things for the Arab League and the international community as a whole to help those countries in transition.”
During his visit, Mr. Ban met with the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and the Prime Minister, Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. He thanked the Prime Minister for Kuwait’s contribution to the UN’s work, and discussed the Arab League summit, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and relations between Iraq and Kuwait.
The Secretary-General discussed similar issues with Ahmed Abdulaziz Al-Sadoun, the Speaker of the Parliament. The role of women in Kuwait’s political life also featured in their talks, with Mr. Ban lamenting the fact that no women had been elected to parliament in the most recent elections, and voicing the hope that they would succeed in the future.
While in Kuwait city, Mr. Ban also had wide-ranging discussions with Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry officials, academics and representatives of civil society.
In his remarks to the media, he also spoke on the progress in normalizing relations between Iraq and Kuwait.
“Prime Minister of Iraq [Nuri Kamel] al-Maliki’s recent visit to Kuwait was an important step. So too is the forthcoming visit of His Highness Emir of Kuwait to Iraq for the League of Arab States Summit meeting,” he said, adding that he was encouraged by the two countries’ resumption of their Joint Ministerial Committee, which addresses outstanding issues between them.