Annan sees ‘shift’ in Russia and China positions on Syria

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The “shift” in the positions of Russia and China on Syria should not be underestimated, the spokesman for peace envoy Kofi Annan said on Tuesday after international talks in Geneva.

“Many forces have joined hands here on Saturday ... don’t underestimate the shift particularly from Russian and China,”" Ahmed Fawzi said.

Fawzi said reports out of Beijing and Moscow had been “very supportive” of the agreement made at the meeting.

“Let’s wait until the dust settles on this agreement and I think everyone will see that it was quite an accomplishment that was achieved here on Saturday,” said Fawzi, according to AFP.

This accomplishment included an agreement in principle on a political transition, he said, but a complete halt to the violence is vital first.

“It’s imperative that we get a ceasefire,” Fawzi.

The spokesman also said exiting the crisis in Syria would not be without its troubles despite agreement at the ministerial meeting.

“It’s going to be a long, bumpy road,” said Ahmad Fawzi, “but we believe that commitments made in Geneva were genuine and if applied as promised will have an effect.”

Major powers and neighboring countries pledged to support a transitional government in Syria although Annan failed to bridge differences between the West and Russia -- backed by China -- on whether or not that meant Assad must go.

Fawzi said that China and Russia were very supportive of the agreement, in which ministers committed to apply “joint and sustained pressure” on the government and opposition in Syria. Several opposition leaders were going to Moscow “very, very soon,” he said, without giving details, Reuters reported.

Qatar, Turkey, Iraq and Kuwait had also backed the agreement at the talks and would use their influence to help end the 16-month conflict in Syria, according to Fawzi.