UN chief disappointed with Assad's peace plan

New York, Jan 8 (IANS/RIA Novosti) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is disappointed with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's new peace initiative that was rejected by the opposition and the West, his spokesman said.

Assad gave a speech Sunday proposing a plan to resolve the country's crisis which includes a national reconciliation conference, new constitution, the formation of a new government and an amnesty.

"The secretary-general was disappointed that the speech by President Bashar al-Assad on January 6 does not contribute to a solution that could end the terrible suffering of the Syrian people," Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky said in a statement.

He said the peace initiative rejected a political transition and the establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive powers that would include representatives of all Syrians.

"The secretary-general and Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi have worked and continue to work towards a political solution to the conflict through a political transition that includes the establishment of a transitional government and the holding of free and fair elections under the auspices of the UN," the statement read.

In a rare televised speech that was met with cheering applause by his supporters, Assad denounced the opposition as "puppets of the West" and said Syria wanted to negotiate with the "master not the servants". He said the reconciliation conference would exclude "those who have betrayed Syria".

The peace initiative has been dismissed by the US and the opposition Syrian National Coalition.

The 21-month conflict in Syria has claimed more than 60,000 lives, according to the UN estimates.

--IANS/RIA Novosti

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