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Canada backs Arab League plan on Assad departure

25 january 2012, 12:37
Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. ©REUTERS/Chris Wattie
Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. ©REUTERS/Chris Wattie
Canada supports the Arab League plan for an immediate departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and urges the UN Security Council to make progress on the Syrian crisis, its top diplomat said Monday, AFP reports.

"We welcome the Arab League's report and proposal to have Assad move aside, paving the way for free elections; it is all the more important given the inability, to this point, of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to address the crisis in Syria," Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said in a statement.

"We strongly support Arab League efforts to achieve a peaceful transition of power and we urge the UNSC to back this effort," he stressed.

Syria on Monday rejected an Arab League plan for al-Assad to step down and clear the way for a national unity government.

In a surprise move, the Arab League on Sunday asked the United Nations to support a new plan for ending the bloodshed in unrest-swept Syria that would see Assad transferring power to his deputy and a government of national unity formed within two months.

The Security Council has been blocked for months over Syria, with Russia and China maintaining that any moves in the UN body against Assad would be the first steps toward regime change by force, as in Libya last year.

International pressure on Assad's regime has been mounting, as more than 5,400 people have been killed since anti-government protests broke out last March, according to UN figures.

"We condemn the Syrian authorities’ continued slaughter of innocent Syrians despite the presence of Arab League monitors. Sadly, Arab League monitors face a desperate regime that will do anything to maintain its grip on power," Baird said.

"Canada continues to call on Assad to step down immediately and stands ready to support the Syrian people’s demands for change."

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