GENEVA / HELSINKI
Clinton says she has ‘great hope’ that an upcoming Geneva meeting. AP photo
International peace envoy Kofi Annan said yesterday that an action group on Syria would meet this weekend in a new bid to shore up his faltering peace plan, but Iran
was kept off the invitation list.
The former U.N. secretary-general said a ministerial level meeting of the action group would take place in Geneva on June 30. Annan’s announcement cited invitations to the five veto-wielding council members - Britain, China, France, Russia
and the United States - plus Turkey. He also said the invitations included the U.N. secretary-general and representatives of the League of Arab States including diplomats from Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar. But while U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is among those due to attend, gave Annan her full backing, the news that Iran
was not among those invited was likely to infuriate Syria’s chief ally, Russia. Russian
President Vladimir Putin said on June 26 that Iran
should be invited to any international meeting in Geneva, saying it “would complicate the process” if Tehran were to be shut out. Annan has not also invited Saudi Arabia. In his statement, Annan said that the action group aimed to “identify steps and measures to secure full implementation of the six-point plan,” Agence France-Presse reported. But he also said the meeting would seek agreement “on guidelines and principles for a Syrian-led political transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people” as well as “agree on actions that will make these objectives a reality on the ground.”Meeting can be turning point: Clinton
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she has “great hope” that an upcoming Geneva meeting of world powers can be a turning point in the Syria crisis. Annan “has developed his own very concrete road map for political transition” from the Assad regime, Clinton said at a news conference. Clinton said she has “great hope” the meeting can be “a turning point in the very tragic circumstances affecting the Syrian people at this time.” Syrian President Bashar Assad “has relied on the support of Russia
in the Security Council to prevent the international community from taking unified action,” the Associated Press quoted Clinton as saying.