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On Syria, Annan to Brief SC on April 2, Resolution on Monitors, Contact with Opposition?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 27 -- Things are moving fast on Syria at the UN, at least apparently. Hours after Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan announced that the Syrian government had agreed to his Six Point Plan, Security Council president for March Mark Lyall Grant of the UK told the press that Annan himself will brief the Council Monday at 10 am.

  Inner City Press asked Lyall Grant if the Council expected the Syrian opposition to agree to Annan's plan. Lyall Grant replied that members of Annan's team are in touch with the opposition and might have something to say before Monday at 10 am, or at that time. Inner City Press has inquired with Annan's team.

  Sources in the Council told Inner City Press that already there was discussion of a resolution for sending UN monitors to Syria. The source was skeptical: would they be peacekeepers from UNMIL or UNDOF or civilian monitors?

  A well placed European source said Assad can't use lack of opposition agreement to "stop shelling villages." But can he? Or might a single car bomb derail Tuesday's good mood?

  On the way into the Council Tuesday morning, German Ambassador Peter Wittig told the press to be cautious, citing the Syrian government's "credibility gap." Similarly, France's Gerard Araud made a gastronomic reference, that "the proof is in the" eating, or pudding.

  But so too the Council's even-handedness. During Tuesday's briefing by the UN's Robert Serry, a Syrian diplomat complained to Inner City Press that Serry had not even mentioned "the Syrian Golan." Inner City Press asked Lyall Grant if this was true and he acknowledged that it was.

  Inner City Press also asked Lyall Grant if his proposed "Permanent Representatives Only" or PR Plus 1 format had made a difference. He called things slightly more interactive, noting that some countries came with larger teams. Watch this site.

From the UK Mission transcript:

Inner City Press: On Syria, was it the Council’s expectation that he would seek a similar agreement from the opposition, or members of the opposition?

Amb Lyall Grant: On the first issue there are members of Mr Annan’s team that are in touch with the opposition. That clearly is an important aspect of his remit. And no doubt there will be further contacts between now and Monday when he briefs the Security Council...

Inner City Press: Was the Golan discussed at all? There was some complain that somehow it hadn’t come up. And also what about this new format? This format of PRs only or PR plus one. Was it useful? Do you think it made a difference in the way that issues were discussed?”

Amb Lyall Grant: Well, the Golan didn’t come up at this particular discussion. In terms of the PR only format, there were some Member States who were PR only, there were some that were PR plus one, and there were others that had rather more officials with them. It was an initiative that we tried to develop – a more interactive dialogue. I think there was a good dialogue. It was perhaps a little bit more interactive, a little bit more frank than some of the consultations I’ve participated in, but it’s an initiative which we hope that other presidencies might look to follow and that may build a bit of steam in the future. Thank you very much.

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Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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