, TEHRAN, Apr 11 – UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan said the situation in Syria should be “much improved” by a Thursday deadline if both sides in the conflict respect a peace plan he drew up.
Annan, speaking at a news conference in Tehran on Wednesday, said: “If everyone respects, I think by six o’clock on Thursday the 12th… we a should see a much improved situation on the ground.”
He said the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has given “further clarifications” over how it would implement its side of the plan after it failed to observe a Tuesday deadline to withdraw its forces from urban areas.
“What they mean and want is an assurance that the other forces, the opposition forces, would also stop the fighting so that we could see cessation of all the violence,” he said.
Annan said his team has “had positive answers from them” and that “governments with influence” had also been approached to ensure that all sides in the conflict respect the ceasefire.
Annan’s six-point plan called for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from populated centres on Tuesday, and then a complete cessation of combat in the following 48 hours. That 48-hour period is to end at 6:00 am Damascus time (0300 GMT) on Thursday.
Annan arrived in Tehran late Wednesday from Turkey for talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.
Iran is Syria’s principal ally in the Middle East and has given political and material support to Assad’s regime.
Turkey has called for Assad to step down to resolve the bloody uprising in Syria that has killed more than 9,000 people since it started a year ago, according to a UN estimate.
Salehi said in the joint news conference that “we told Mr Annan that as long as the peace plan continues its approach, Iran will support it.”
He reiterated that “any change that is to occur in Syria should be done by the Syrian government,” and voiced support for reforms Assad has promised to bring in for democratic elections and changes to Syria’s constitution.
“We are satisfied that there is no discussion within Annan’s peace plan that the head of the Syrian government should be removed nor that they need a change of the Syrian government,” Salehi said.