US says Syria mission may not last past 90 days
United Nations: The United States warned Saturday it may not allow the renewal of the UN monitoring mission in Syria after the first three months, and called for greater international pressure on President Bashar al-Assad. Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, told AFP that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon must now make a "careful judgment" about conditions in Syria before sending 300 unarmed monitors there.
"Our patience is exhausted. No one should assume that the United States will agree to renew this mission after 90 days," Rice told the Security Council after it authorized the full ceasefire observer mission.
Under UN resolution 2043, the unarmed military observers will be deployed for an initial period of 90 days if UN leader Ban Ki-moon decides it is safe for them to go.
"If there is not a sustained cessation of violence, full freedom of movement for UN personnel, and rapid, meaningful progress on all other aspects of the six point plan, then we must all conclude that this mission has run its course," Rice said.
As one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, the United States could veto any resolution renewing the UN Supervisory Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) mandate.
"The deployment of 300 or even 3,000 unarmed observers cannot on its own stop the Assad regime from waging its barbaric campaign of violence," Rice said. "What can bring a halt to this murderous rampage is continued and intensified external pressure on the Assad regime."
France's UN ambassador Gerard Araud also said "there is no automatic renewal." He said the UNSMIS mission should only be renewed "if we think it is useful."
The United States and its allies have all raised doubts about the observer mission, accusing Assad of flouting accords made with UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan on ending violence and pulling troops out of Syrian cities.
The United States voted for the resolution. But Rice said: "We are sober about the risks, all the more so given the Assad regime's long record of broken promises, deceit and disregard for the most basic standards of humanity."
Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin called Rice's remarks "unhelpful."
"Making negative predictions sometimes looks like a prophecy which some people want to be borne out," he told reporters. "Let's, instead of making threats and negative predictions, try to persevere" with a positive strategy, he added.
Asked whether the United States believes the monitors should go to Syria, Rice told AFP: "We think that the secretary general needs to make a careful judgment about whether conditions are conducive.
"We have given him the authority of course to deploy expeditiously as he sees fit, and the resolution makes plain that he ought to do so taking into full account an assessment of circumstances on the ground and whether there is progress on the cessation" of hostilities.
"The US view is that the way in which the advance team is treated, the extent to which it has freedom of movement and the extent to which the government of Syria fulfills its obligations to end the violence would be important factors in our judgment about the efficacy of the mission," Rice said.
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