09:02 GMT +319 July 2019
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    Syria Accepts UN Peace Plan

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    The Syrian government has agreed to accept a peace plan proposed by UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, his spokesman says.

    The Syrian government has agreed to accept a peace plan proposed by UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, al Jazeera television quoted his spokesman as saying.

    "The Syrian government has written to the joint special envoy Kofi Annan, accepting his six-point plan, endorsed by the United Nations Security Council," spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said in a statement on Tuesday.

    Annan, who is in China to solicit support for the plan, considered it "an important initial step that could bring an end to the violence."

    Russia has backed the former UN chief's plan, which calls for a UN-supervised ceasefire and political dialogue.

    Both countries have been slated after vetoing two UN resolutions condemning the violence, which the UN estimates say has left more than 8,000 people dead.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the former UN chief's mission might be "Syria's last chance to avoid a protracted and bloody civil war."  

    Annan wrote to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad urging him to put his commitments into immediate effect, Fawzi said.

    Opposition groups have dismissed Annan's initiative as an opportunity for the government to continue its crackdown on rebels.

    President Bashar has been criticized for not delivering on earlier pledges of reform. 

    Western and Arab leaders will attend the second "Friends of Syria" meeting on April 1 to discuss ways to stop the yearlong unrest in Syria.

    Russia announced on Tuesday it would skip the gathering, saying "such events" could be used to "prepare the ground for outside intervention."

    The Russian Foreign Ministry also said dialogue between the government and opposition figures, including some who visited Moscow for talks in recent months, was scarcely in sight.

    "The public statements made by [Burhan] Ghalioun [leader of the main opposition group the Syrian National Council] and several other opposition leaders do not indicate that such dialogue will take place any time soon," ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters in Moscow.

    Lukashevich also described opposition demands for regime change as "unnecessary" and "unattainable."

    The Syrian government insists it is combating "armed terrorist gangs" who are seeking to destabilize Syria.

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