Russia proposes deadline to stop Syria violence
Moscow: Russia is proposing setting a concrete date for a new ceasefire between government troops and opposition forces in Syria, the Russian envoy to the UN has said.
The proposal is part of a statement drafted by Russia, which is expected to be adopted by members of the international Action Group for Syria during a meeting in New York Friday.
"The aim of this meeting is to urge the opposing parties to end violence as well as to appoint their representatives for the start of talks by the time it happens," Vitaly Churkin said.
The Action Group for Syria comprises the permanent UN Security Council members - Russia, China, US, France and Britain - and key regional players.
Russia initiated the meeting following an announcement by French UN Ambassador Gerard Araud Thursday that the mandate of a UN observer mission in Syria, which expires Aug 19, would not be extended.
Russia had repeatedly called for the monitors, who were deployed in Syria in May under Kofi Annan`s peace plan, to remain in the violence-torn country in order to avoid possible "serious negative consequences" of their withdrawal.
The original mission of 300 military and civilian observers has been cut to 110 after intensified violence in Syria forced the monitors to suspend patrols in June.
The Syrian conflict has claimed up to 20,000 lives since March 2011, according to estimates by various opposition groups and the UN.
The UN refugee agency has registered almost 150,000 refugees in four countries bordering Syria.
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