BEIRUT

Middle East

Mood criticizes empty talk on Syria in 'nice hotels'

Norwegian Major-General Robert Mood, chief of the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), smiles as he stands in an elevator at a hotel in Damascus July 2, 2012. (REUTERS/Khaled al- Hariri)

DAMASCUS: The chief U.N. observer in Syria criticized the international community on Wednesday for talking too much in luxurious settings, and doing too little on the ground to stop the horrific violence.

"There is this feeling that it's too much talk in nice hotels, in nice meetings and too little action to move forward and stop the violence," Major General Robert Mood told reporters in Damascus.

The 300-strong U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) was suspended in mid-June because of intense violence across the country.

"The urgency of stopping the violence is maybe the most important issue for everyone involved" in the conflict, Mood told a news conference at a hotel in the Syrian capital.

Mood returned to Damascus from Geneva, following a meeting on Saturday where world powers agreed on a plan for a transition in Syria, which did not make an explicit call for President Bashar al-Assad to quit power. However, the West swiftly made clear it saw no role for Assad in a unity government.

"The Geneva meeting was a very important one," Mood said. "It was difficult, but in my view, for a possible peaceful way forward for the Syrian people we reached the best possible outcome."

The observer mission was deployed as part of a six-point plan by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, which included a ceasefire that has been violated daily since it took effect on April 12.

The unarmed military observers' mission suspended its activities in mid-June because of "too much violence," Mood said.

As soon as "the conditions on the ground allow the implementation of our mandated task, we will resume the mandated task," he added.

The mission's mandate is due to expire on July 20, he noted, adding that the U.N. Security Council will then decide on the mission's future.

"Exactly what will be the outcome of the Security Council's deliberations and discussions remains to be seen in the coming days and the coming weeks," said Mood.

He added that he was "still very much convinced that the commitment of the U.N. to the welfare of the Syrian people, to the future of the Syrian people will be strong also after the 20th of July."

As well as a ceasefire, Anan's tattered peace deal also envisaged access for humanitarian aid, the release of all political detainees, the launch of an inclusive political process, peaceful demonstrations and that journalists be allowed to work freely in Syria.

More than 16,500 people have been killed in violence in Syria ever since an uprising against President Bashar Assad broke out in March last year, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

This figure is impossible to independently verify, and the United Nations no longer publishes its own estimates of the death toll.

 

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