UN chief calls for broad global talks on Syria crisis


UN chief Ban Ki-moon called on Sunday for broad international talks on the rising Syrian crisis, urging Security Council members to consider Arab League demands for stronger UN action in the strife-torn country.

‘Our priority at this time is to help the Syrian people… I want to welcome a wider international discussion on the future course of actions,’ Ban told reporters after a meeting with Organisation of Islamic Cooperation chief, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, in the Saudi port city of Jeddah.

Ban said he had ‘taken note’ of Arab League calls for more peace monitors on the ground in Syria and ‘setting a certain time limit’ for implementing international envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point Syria peace plan.

‘All these are very important recommendations and I hope that these will be discussed by the Security Council members,’ he said, adding that the UN and OIC will ‘do all what we can in close coordination … to support (Annan’s) efforts.’

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani, who heads the Arab League Syria committee said on Saturday that it was ‘unacceptable that massacres and bloodshed continue while (Annan’s) mission is ongoing indefinitely’.

Speaking during a meeting attended by Annan in Doha, he said the Arab League ‘demand the UN Security Council refer (the peace plan) to Chapter VII so that the international community could assume responsibilities’.

Chapter VII outlines action the Security Council might take, including military force, in response to threats to international peace, breaches of the peace and acts of aggression.

Up to 300 unarmed UN military observers have deployed in Syria since a putative ceasefire brokered by Annan went into effect in April.

The plan calls for a halt to violence, daily two-hour humanitarian truce, media access to areas of fighting, the launching of a political dialogue, the right to demonstrate and the release of detainees.

OIC chief Ihsanoglu, meanwhile, said that new clashes between pro- and anti-Syrian regime gunmen in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli are a ‘dangerous development’.

‘Lebanon has a long history with civil war … and I hope it doesn’t slide back’ into it, Ihsanoglu told reporters after his meeting with Ban.

‘That is why we say that the conflict and killing in Syria must stop,’ he added.

The violence in Tripoli has left 14 people dead and 48 wounded since Saturday, according to a security official.

The talks came ahead of the second advisory meeting of the United Nations Counter-terrorism Centre, established in late 2011 to support the implementation of the UN’s counter-terrorism strategies.

Saudi Arabia has pledged $US10 million ($A10.32 million) over three years to support the centre.

Sky News