Syrians bemoan failure of world talks on crisis



DAMASCUS- The opposition and state media on Sunday both branded an international plan for a transition in strife-torn Syria a failure, as the death toll for a weekend of violence topped 160.
World powers meeting in Geneva on Saturday agreed that the transition plan could include current regime members, but the West did not see any role for President Bashar al-Assad in a new unity government.



Syrians bemoan failure of world talks on crisis
Russia and China insisted that Syrians themselves must decide how the transition takes place, rather than allow others to dictate their fate.
Moscow and Beijing, which have twice blocked UN Security Council resolutions on Syria, signed up to the final agreement that did not make any explicit call for Assad to cede power.
Official Syrian media slammed the outcome, in rare agreement with the main opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) and the Local Coordination Committees (LCC) which organise protests.
The meeting "failed," trumpeted the ruling party's Al-Baath newspaper.
"The agreement of the task force on Syria in Geneva on Saturday resembles an enlarged meeting of the UN Security Council where the positions of participants remained the same," it said.
The SNC said it had expected "more serious and effective action" to emerge from the Geneva talks and reiterated that Assad must quit power.
"The Syrian people were hoping that the international community would adopt more serious and effective measures in dealing with the regime, whose bloody behaviour has become clear," the SNC said.
"The Syrian National Council affirms that no initiative can be accepted by the Syrian people unless it clearly calls on Bashar al-Assad and the tyrants around him to step down."
It also charged that the Geneva plan "lacked a clear mechanism for action and a timetable" to hold the regime accountable, and warned that this could mean "more bloodshed."
Burhan Ghalioun, a top SNC member and former head, described the transition plan as a "farce," according to the opposition coalition's official Facebook page.
Ghalioun called a "mockery" the notion that Syrians should negotiate with "their executioner, who has not stopped killing, torturing... and raping women for 16 months."
SNC spokeswoman Basma Qadmani admitted there were some "positive elements" in the deal but told told AFP "important elements remain too ambiguous."
The LCC said the outcome showed once again a failure to adopt a common position.
It called the transition accord "just one version, different in form only, of the demands of Russian leaders allied to the Assad regime and who cover it militarily and politically in the face of international pressure."
Iran, a strong ally of Assad, said the Geneva meeting was "unsuccessful" because Damascus and Tehran were not invited.
The United States and European nations reportedly opposed the presence of Iran, although UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan and UN chief Ban Ki-moon had wanted Tehran to attend.
-- Opposition to meet in Cairo
Opposition groups are to hold a two-day meeting in Cairo from Monday and are also expected to hold talks on Tuesday with Arab ministers in a bid to agree on a shared platform, Egyptian media and the Arab League said.
The Geneva deal came despite initial pessimism over the talks amid deep divisions between the West and China and Russia on how to end the violence that the Observatory says has killed more than 15,800 since March 2011.
Syria's neighbour Turkey, which attended the Geneva talks, scrambled fighter jets after Syrian helicopters flew close to its border, the army said on Sunday, hiking tensions following last month's downing of a Turkish plane.
Six F-16 warplanes took off from airbases in south Turkey on Saturday after Syrian helicopters flew closer to the border than is normal, the army said, specifying there had been three incidents but no violation of Turkish airspace.
In weekend violence, more than 160 people were killed across Syria, including 120 on Saturday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
On Sunday, at least 43 people died -- 36 of them civilians caught in fierce fighting between troops and armed insurgents that flared in several parts of Syria.
Sunday's highest concentration of deaths was in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor where nine civilians and three rebels were reportedly killed.
Annan said on Saturday it was up to the Syrians to decide who they wanted in a unity government. But he added: "I would doubt that Syrians... would select people with blood on their hands to lead them."
The United States and France both said it was clear there was no future role for Assad.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague admitted the deal was a "compromise agreement" as Russia played up the fact that it had convinced other world powers that it would be "unacceptable" to exclude any party from the transition.
Moscow is loath to cast aside its ally Assad, even as relations between them have cooled.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: "How exactly the work on a transition to a new stage is conducted will be decided by the Syrians themselves.
"There are no demands to exclude from this process any one group. This aspect had been present in many of our partners' proposals. We have convinced them that this is unacceptable."
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Monday, July 2nd 2012
AFP
           


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