Russia calls for UN monitors to stay in Syria
Moscow, Aug 3 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russia has urged the international community to keep the UN monitors in Syria and uphold the Geneva agreements following the resignation of UN and Arab League envoy to Syria Kofi Annan.
"Despite all the difficulties that the UN mission in Syria faces, it remains an important element of international support for the rights of Syrians to determine the path of their country's independent democratic development," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement Friday.
On July 23, the members of the UN Security Council voted unanimously to extend the UN monitoring mission in Syria, consisting of several hundreds of peacekeepers, for a period of 30 days.
The diplomats also said that "Annan's peace plan as well as the Geneva agreements retain their significance as a reference point for the peaceful solution of the Syrian problems".
The ministry's statement comes after UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon said Thursday that Annan would not extend his mandate as the UN and Arab League envoy to Syria, which expires Aug 31.
On June 30, foreign ministers of the "action group" on Syria, which includes the Western powers, Russia and China, held talks in Geneva where they agreed on creation of a "transitional government body with full executive powers" in Syria.
Moscow also criticised Western countries and the Syrian opposition for "doing nothing" to set up a political dialogue in Syria.
"Unfortunately, the Syrian opposition has persistently dismissed all proposals to hold a political dialogue. Our Western partners, some regional states that could influence the opposition, have done nothing for it," the ministry said.
The conflict, which began in March 2011, has already claimed up to 20,000 lives, according to Syrian activists.
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