Geneva: An international conference accepted a UN-brokered peace plan for Syria, but left open whether the country`s President could be part of a transitional government.
The US backed away from demands that President Bashar Assad be excluded, hoping the concession would encourage Russia to put greater pressure on its longtime ally to end the violent crackdown that the opposition says has claimed over 14,000 lives.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted that Assad would still have to go, saying "it is now incumbent on Russia and China to show Assad the writing on the wall”.
Moscow had refused to back a provision that would call for Assad to step aside, insisting that outsiders cannot order a political solution for Syria.
Syria envoy Kofi Annan said following talks that "it is for the people of Syria to come to a political agreement”.
"I will doubt that the Syrians who have fought so hard to have independence ... Will select people with blood on their hands to lead them," he said.
The envoy earlier warned the permanent members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- that if they fail to act at the talks hosted by the United Nations at its European headquarters in Geneva, they face an international crisis of "grave severity" that could spark violence across the region and provide a new front for terrorism.
"History is a sombre judge and it will judge us all harshly, if we prove incapable of taking the right path today," he said.
He appeared to specifically aim his words at Russia, Syria`s most important ally, protector and arms supplier.
The US has been adamant that Assad should not be allowed to remain in power at the top of the transitional government, and there is little chance that the fragmented Syrian opposition would go along with any plan that does not explicitly say Bashar must go.