UNITED NATIONS — Saudi Arabia favors the establishment of a buffer zone in Syria to provide a safe haven for the victims of continuing violence and bloodshed in the country.
Addressing the United Nations General Assembly Friday, Abdullatif Salam, Deputy Chief of the Saudi Mission at the United Nations, asked the world community to shoulder its responsibilities to end bloodshed in Syria.
Countries and organizations still supporting the Syrian government, he said, should reconsider their policies to protect unarmed Syrians facing the danger of genocide.
Meanwhile in Moscow, Russia said Friday after high stakes talks with the US pointman on Syria that it did not know if President Bashar Al-Assad intended to leave power but made no formal call on him to go.
Senior Russian diplomats said they also told visiting special envoy Fred Hof that Moscow was willing to agree changes to international mediator Kofi Annan’s peace plan for Syria as long as they kept the tattered initiative alive.
The comments signaled no shift in Russia’s position on a crisis that has killed more than 13,500 people and has set Moscow at loggerheads with the West since strongman Vladimir Putin’s return to an historic third Kremlin term.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had dispatched Hof to Moscow after agreeing not to make Assad’s ouster a precondition for a settlement in Syria, while vowing to make it the ultimate goal.
But Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said after the meeting that Russia had no information about a leadership change being planned in Damascus and pointedly failed to make any public call for one.
“I do not know anything about such plans by the Syrian president,” Bogdanov told the state news agency RIA Novosti when asked after the meeting if Moscow was aware of any intention by Assad to step down. China also refused to back Annan’s call to increase the pressure on the Assad regime. — Agencies