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U.N. Security Council Approves Annan's Syria Plan


Former U.N. Security General Kofi Annan got a boost today from the Security Council as he struggles to resolve the crisis in Syria. The council endorsed his peace proposals. They call for a daily two-hour pause in fighting to allow humanitarian aid in and for a political dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition. Here's NPR's Michele Kelemen.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Shortly after the council unanimously backed Kofi Annan's six-point plan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was speaking to reporters outside her office.

SECRETARY HILLARY CLINTON: This is a positive step. The council has now spoken with one voice. It has demanded a U.N.-supervised cessation of violence in all its forms, beginning with a pullback from population centers by the Syrian government forces.

KELEMEN: The plan also calls for the beginning of a Syrian-led political process, which Clinton says will lead to a democratic transition in the country. She's urging Syrian military personnel to refuse orders to fire on their fellow citizens and she has a message for Syrian president Bashar al Assad.

CLINTON: Take this path, commit to it or face increasing pressure and isolation.

KELEMEN: Russia, which vetoed two previous Security Council resolutions, backed the non-binding statement mainly because there are no demands or threats of sanctions. At the U.N., Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin was quick to point out the council also issued a statement condemning acts of terrorism in Syria.

VITALY CHURKIN: We are very pleased the Security Council has finally chosen to take a pragmatic look at the situation in Syria and we are very pleased that we have a process which we hope will continue and will lead to an important Syrian-led political process in the country.

KELEMEN: There's no language in the Ssecurity Council statement demanding that Assad give up power. Still, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland says the U.S. expectation is that Assad would not continue to run Syria at the end of a democratic transition process. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.