(MENAFN - Arab News) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday called for broad international talks on the protracted Syrian crisis, urging Security Council members to consider Arab League demands for stronger UN action in the strife-torn country.
"Our priority at this time is to help the Syrian people...I want to welcome a wider international discussion on the future course of actions," Ban told reporters after a meeting with Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Ban said he had taken note of Arab League calls for more peace monitors on the ground in Syria and "setting a certain time limit" for implementing international envoy Kofi Annan's six-point Syria peace plan. "All these are very important recommendations and I hope that these will be discussed by the Security Council members," he said, adding that the UN and OIC will "do all what we can in close coordination...to support his (Annan's) efforts."
Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani, who heads the Arab League's Syria committee, said Saturday that it was "unacceptable that massacres and bloodshed continue while (Annan's) mission is ongoing indefinitely."
Speaking during a meeting attended by Annan in Doha, he said the Arab League "demands the UN Security Council refer (the peace plan) to Chapter VII so that the international community could assume responsibilities."
Chapter VII outlines action the Security Council might take, including military force, in response to threats to international peace, breaches of the peace and acts of aggression.
Up to 300 unarmed UN military observers have been deployed in Syria since a putative cease-fire brokered by Annan went into effect in April.
The plan calls for a halt to violence, a daily two-hour humanitarian truce, media access to areas of fighting, the launching of a political dialogue, the right to demonstrate and the release of detainees.
The OIC chief, meanwhile, said new clashes between pro and anti-Syrian regime gunmen in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli are a "dangerous development."
"Lebanon has a long history with civil war...and I hope it doesn't slide back" into it, Ihsanoglu told reporters after his meeting with Ban.
"That is why we say that the conflict and killing in Syria must stop," he added. The violence in Tripoli has reportedly left 14 people dead and 48 wounded since Saturday.
Ihsanoglu spoke highly about Ban's visit to the OIC headquarters in Jeddah, saying it would contribute to strengthening strategic cooperation between the two international organizations.
The OIC chief and Ban also discussed other regional issues such as Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan and the tension between Sudan and South Sudan.
Ban commended the OIC for joining international relief work in Syria. "We consider the OIC an active partner in international relief work Syria."
He welcomed OIC's plan to establish an office in Yemen for humanitarian work.
He appreciated the formation of a permanent human rights commission under OIC and hoped it would cooperate with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. He praised the OIC for appointing four women in the new rights body.