UN unanimously approves Syria observer force

United Nations: The powerful UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution to send an advanced team of "unarmed" observers to Syria to monitor the implementation of cessation of armed violence in the country.

In the resolution, brought by eight countries including France, Germany, UK and the US, the 15-nation body said it has decided to authorise an "advanced team of up to 30 unarmed military observers to liaise with the parties and to begin to report on the implementation of a full cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties."

The resolution called upon President Bashar Al Assad`s Syrian government as well as the opposition to ensure that the advance team is able to carry out its functions. Voting in favour of the resolution, India said it has consistently supported all efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis through an inclusive Syrian-led political process that meets the legitimate aspirations of all sections of Syrian society.

India`s Permanent Representative to the US Hardeep Singh Puri told the UN Security Council, which met here to vote on the resolution yesterday, that Minister of External Affairs S M Krishna spoke to UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan earlier in the day and "underscored India`s support for his mission."

"We have voted in favour of the resolution today so that an advance team of the UN supervision mission may be deployed expeditiously to monitor the cessation of violence. We hope that all parties, including the opposition, will implement their commitment and cooperate with the mission," Puri said.

He added that it is necessary that the mission carries out its work "impartially, fairly and independently" with due respect for Syria`s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity. The resolution said the Syrian government should facilitate "expeditious and unhindered" deployment of the mission and allow its freedom of movement and unobstructed communications throughout Syria. It also stressed that it is the Syrian government`s responsibility to ensure safety of the advance team and that it is guaranteed freedom of movement and access.

India said for the success of Annan`s six-point peace plan and the observer mission, it is necessary that it is accompanied by an inclusive Syrian-led political process with the cessation of violence creating a conducive environment for such a process to start as early as possible.

"We have noted the commitment of the Government of Syria to such a process. We expect that the opposition will also engage seriously in this process so that the crisis is resolved without any further bloodshed, and that peace, stability and security is re-established and the people of Syria are able to focus their energies on socio-economic development," Puri said. He noted that it is necessary for Syria?s neighbours to extend their support for a political resolution of the crisis.

"India will continue to extend full support for the impartial implementation of Annan?s six-point plan," he said. Expressing satisfaction that Annan`s efforts over the last six weeks have resulted in cessation of violence, Puri welcomed the commitment of the Syrian government to Annan`s six-point plan, saying the Syrian opposition too is expected to adhere to the peace plan, renounce violence and cooperate fully with Annan.

The resolution also reiterated its demand that the Syrian government should allow "immediate, full and unimpeded" access to humanitarian teams to areas in need of assistance. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would report to the Council progress on the implementation of the resolution by April 19.