UN chief warns of regional fallout from Syria

Western powers on Tuesday agreed to change a proposed Security Council statement on Syria after Russia refused to back any "ultimatum" to President Bashar al-Assad.
The proposed statement aims to reinforce international backing for Annan's efforts to halt worsening bloodshed in Syria that the UN says has left well over 8,000 dead.


JAKARTA, Mar 21, 2012 (AFP) - UN chief Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday that the Syrian crisis had "massive" regional repercussions, and the priority must be to stop the violence and give urgent access to humanitarian aid.
"We all have a responsibility to work for a resolution of this profound and extremely dangerous situation and crisis," the United Nations secretary-general said in a speech to a defence conference in the Indonesian capital.
The situation is "a crisis that has potentially massive repercussions for the region of the world", he added, without spelling out what the repercussions might be for the Middle East.
Ban said that Kofi Annan, the UN-Arab League special envoy on Syria, was "working tirelessly" and noted that Annan had kept the UN Security Council briefed on his efforts.
The prepared text of Ban's speech released to media in Jakarta said Annan was expected to return soon to Damascus. This line was removed from the speech as delivered, and Ban did not give any timeframe for when Annan might return.
Martin Nesirky, a spokesman for Ban, told AFP: "The joint special envoy's technical team is still in Damascus, and he is still waiting to hear more details from them before he decides on his travel plans."
Ban told his Jakarta audience that the UN had three major priorities in Syria.
These were "an immediate end to the violence -- all violence", an "inclusive political dialogue" to shape the country's future, "and thirdly we have to provide, immediately and urgently, humanitarian access".

Speaking to Indonesian troops working as UN peacekeepers, Ban on Tuesday called the situation in Syria "unacceptable" and urged the international community to act immediately to end the violence.
Annan and Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi also called for a united international stand on the crisis.
A new version of the Security Council statement is now to be considered by governments. Russia and China have twice vetoed resolutions on Syria sponsored by Western nations, calling them unbalanced.