Chance of agreeing on Syria ceasefire small: Arab official

DUBAI Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:44am EDT

Ahmed Ben Hilli, from the Arab League, speaks during a news conference in Baghdad November 9, 2005. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

Ahmed Ben Hilli, from the Arab League, speaks during a news conference in Baghdad November 9, 2005.

Credit: Reuters/Thaier al-Sudani

DUBAI (Reuters) - A Muslim holiday this week provides only a small window of hope for agreement on a ceasefire between Syria's rebels and the government of President Bashar al-Assad, a senior Arab League official said on Tuesday.

United Nations and Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi has been pushing for a temporary ceasefire to mark the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha, which will begin on Friday and last over the weekend.

But Ahmed Ben Hilli, deputy secretary-general of the Arab League, told Reuters: "Until now the hope is weak ...

"The indications that are now apparent and the government's reaction ... do not show any signs of a real desire to implement this ceasefire," he said on the sidelines of a conference in Dubai.

"We are days away from Eid. We hope the situation changes and the government and opposition respond even a little bit to this door for negotiations."

Separately, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged the Syrian government and all opposition groups to accept Brahimi's proposal, calling it "a necessary step toward a long-term ceasefire and the launch of a political process aimed at providing for a Syrian democratic renewal".

Like Assad, Russia has laid most of the blame for the continuing violence on the rebels, who it says are aided by encouragement and weapons from abroad.

In Damascus on Sunday, Assad told Brahimi the key to any political solution was to stop the arming of the rebels.

Human rights activists say the conflict, which has drawn in regional and international powers backing different sides, has killed more than 30,000 people since protests against Assad erupted in March last year.

(Reporting by Amena Bakr in Dubai and Steve Gutterman in Moscow; Writing by Andrew Hammond; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Pictures