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UN to hold emergency meeting on Syria as violence continues to rage

The United Nations will once again meet to try to broker a peace deal as the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate.

By Patrick J. McDonnellLos Angeles Times / June 27, 2012

Major-General Robert Mood, head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria and Chief Military Observer, speaks during a news conference held with Kofi Annan, Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League for Syria, not seen, at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, June 22.

Martial Trezzini/AP

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Beirut

With a new warning that strife-torn Syria confronts a “catastrophic” fate, the United Nations said Wednesday it will convene an emergency session Saturday in a bid to salvage a faltering, U.N.-brokered peace plan that has failed to halt the nation’s slide toward civil war.

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US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed to participate in the “Action Group for Syria” meeting in Geneva after special US envoy Kofi Annan excluded Iran, Washington’s arch-enemy and a stalwart ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad. British officials also welcomed the Annan plan and Foreign Secretary William Hague announced he would attend the Saturday session.

The top US diplomat said Annan had devised a “political transition road map” that provides some hope for resolving the bloody conflict that is escalating into an unchecked cycle of sectarian murders, kidnappings and atrocities by both sides, according to a new U.N. report.

“The situation on the ground is dangerously and quickly deteriorating,” the U.N. Human Rights Council wrote. “Further militarization of the crisis will be catastrophic.”

Details of Annan’s new “road map” were not disclosed. Ministers meeting in Geneva will be tasked with agreeing on “guidelines and principles for a Syrian-led political transition,” said a statement from Annan’s office. But Clinton clearly endorsed the approach as an improvement on the special envoy’s failed entreaties to Assad to take “bold steps” to implement a U.N.-brokered six-point peace plan.

US officials have insisted on a “political transition” mandate, a phrase that does not appear in Annan’s original six-point plan. Clinton said she had personally spoken with Annan three times in the past 24 hours.

“If Kofi Annan is able to lay down a political transition road map … that is endorsed by Russia and China, for example, that sends a very different message,” Clinton told reporters in Helsinki. “That’s the first time that the international community will really evidence a direction that I think Assad will have to respond to.”

Russia and China, veto-wielding permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, have twice blocked resolutions condemning Assad’s crackdown on dissent that could have opened the door for U.N.-authorized sanctions or even military intervention.

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