Speaking in Beijing today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he held “very good meetings” on the situation in Syria with China’s President Hu Jintao and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, and expressed the hope that the Security Council can reach agreement on a course of action for the situation in the Middle Eastern country.
“I have explained how serious the situation is now and all the leaders in China have also shared my view that this situation is very serious,” Mr. Ban said at a press encounter in the wake of his meetings. “Therefore, I sincerely hope that the members of the Security Council will be able to discuss with a sense of urgency and take collective action with a sense of unity.”
“We cannot go on this way. So many people have lost their lives during such a long time,” he added. “I sincerely hope that Members of the Security Council will be united and take action.”
In a note to journalists, the UN chief’s spokesperson later said that, in the meetings, the Secretary-General also expressed the hope that the Council – of which China is a permanent member – would continue its discussions.
“He hopes that, as a matter of urgency, the Council comes together in a united manner to help end the bloodshed and allow Syrians to begin a political dialogue leading to a Syrian-led transition,” the spokesperson said.
On Tuesday, in his contacts with a number of Governments, the Joint Special Envoy for the United Nations and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis, Kofi Annan, also urged Council members “to unite and take concerted and strong action that would help stem the bloodshed in Syria and build momentum for a political transition,” according to Mr. Annan’s spokesperson.
“The Joint Special Envoy for Syria condemns all bloodshed, and violence in all its forms, and believes that today's violence only underscores the urgency of decisive Council action,” the envoy’s spokesperson said in a note to journalists today.
Council members are expected to meet on Thursday to discuss the crisis in Syria, which has continued unabated since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 16 months ago. The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and tens of thousands displaced.
In addition, the mandate of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) – which recently suspended its regular patrols due to the escalating violence on the ground – ends on 20 July, with Council members expected to decide on its future before then. The Council established UNSMIS in April to monitor the cessation of violence in Syria, as well as monitor and support the full implementation of a six-point peace plan.
The Secretary-General – as well as Joint Special Envoy Annan – has previously spoken of the need for collective and decisive action on the situation in the country.
Earlier in the week, the Secretary-General spoke with Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, by telephone, and discussed the “imperative need” for an immediate halt to the violence in Syria.
As well, he stressed the importance of the Joint Special Envoy’s discussions in Moscow.
Mr. Annan was in Moscow on Monday and Tuesday. Speaking to the media yesterday, he said that, along with Foreign Minister Lavrov, he had a “very good” discussion with Russia’s President, Valdimir Putin, focusing on what measures need to be taken to end the violence and the killing in Syria and how to proceed with a political transition there.
The Joint Special Envoy has previously noted the importance of a united Council on the Syrian crisis, saying that “if the Council speaks with one voice, that voice is much more powerful than when it is divided.”
In another note to journalists on Wednesday, Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said that the Secretary-General also spoke with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati today, on the situation in neighbouring Syria.
“The Secretary-General expressed strong support for the efforts of the Prime Minister to protect Lebanon's stability and security,” the spokesperson said. “The Secretary-General underscored the Syrian Government's responsibility to stop firing into Lebanon, and he expressed regret for Lebanese casualties.”
In addition to recent sectarian violence linked to the conflict in Syria, Lebanon has also been a destination for thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing the violence in their country.