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Russia says Syria ceasefire needed before UN-Arab peace mission

By Kev Hedges     Feb 13, 2012 in World
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that a ceasefire in Syria is required before any UN-Arab peacekeeping mission could be deployed.
The Arab League put forward the idea over the weekend that a joint UN-Arab force would be able to keep the peace but Russia, who recently vetoed a UN resolution against the Syrian government alongside China, is studying the plan and has some reservations regarding it.
While holding talks with UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, Lavrov said:
In order to deploy a peacekeeping mission, you need the agreement of the receiving side, in other words, you need to agree something resembling a ceasefire. But the problem is that the armed groups that are fighting the Syrian regime do not answer to anyone and are not controlled by anyone.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague met with Arab League members on Sunday and warmly welcomed the establishment of the Group of Friends of Syria, a movement that would include exiled opposition leaders. In a statement the foreign secretary said:
We will discuss urgently with the Arab League and our international partners the proposals for a joint AL/UN peacekeeping force.
Such a mission could have an important role to play in saving lives, providing the Assad regime ends the violence against civilians, withdraws its forces from towns and cities and establishes a credible ceasefire.
Meanwhile in Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry avoided clear support for the UN-Arab peacekeeping mission. It did back Arab League mediation in Syria but offered no obvious sign of support for its call to send in peacekeepers to halt the Syrian government's brutal crackdown on opposition groups.
The violent crackdown on civilian protesters has led to more than 6,000 deaths since unrest erupted in mid-March last year.
More about Sergei Lavrov, UNArab peacekeeping mission, Arab league, William Hague, president assad
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