Syria responds to Annan peace plan


UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Kofi Annan in Damascus on March 10, 2012 following a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.



BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syria's government has responded to a peace plan proposed by joint United Nations-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, Reuters reported. "Mr. Annan is studying it and will respond very shortly," said his spokesman. 

Annan, who was formerly the UN Secretary General, has been traveling to rally support for the peace plan with interested countries. Currently Annan is in talks in Moscow, which has been the strongest supporter of the government of Bashar al-Assad. He is expected in China early this week.

The six-point plan, which does not call for Assad's ouster, was endorsed in a presidential statement by the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Previous attempts to pass resolutions calling for Assad's ouster failed because of Chinese and Russian vetoes.

Both China and Russia have fully endorsed the new plan, and Russia's president Dimitri Medvedev said the plan "may be the last chance for Syria to avoid a protracted bloody civil war," the Associated Press reported.

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In another development, the Syrian government is reducing the number of military aged men it is permitting to leave the country, following a new rule instituted Saturday.

"The restrictions issued on Saturday require men between the age of 18 and 42 to get permission from military recruitment and immigration departments before travelling," Reuters wrote.

Lebanese border officials said the number crossing into Lebanon from Syria has fallen 60 percent since Saturday. 

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