AFP
Last updated: 24 February, 2012

UN ex-chief Kofi Annan named envoy as pressure mounts on Syria

Arab and Western nations in Tunisia for the first “Friends of Syria” meeting called Friday for an immediate end to violence in the country and for new sanctions on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

In a final declaration, the group called for the regime to immediately end all violence to allow for humanitarian aid to be brought in.

“The Friends’ Group called on the Syrian government immediately to cease all violence and to allow free and unimpeded access by the UN and humanitarian agencies,” it said.

“It demanded that the Syrian regime immediately permit humanitarian agencies to deliver vital relief goods and services to civilians affected by the violence,” it said.

It also vowed to “press the Syrian regime to stop all acts of violence” by enforcing current sanctions and introducing new ones, including with travel bans, asset freezes, ceasing oil purchases, reducing diplomatic ties and preventing the shipment of arms.

“Participants committed to take steps to apply and enforce restrictions and sanctions on the regime and its supporters as a clear message to the Syrian regime that it cannot attack civilians with impunity,” it said.

It also recognised the main opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Council (SNC), as “a legitimate representative of Syrians seeking peaceful democratic change” but fell short of giving it exclusive recognition.

The declaration did not fully endorse some Arab calls for peacekeepers to be deployed to Syria, with the declaration saying only that it “noted the Arab League’s request to the United Nations Security Council to issue a resolution to form a joint Arab-UN peacekeeping force”.