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World Leaders Struggle Over Syria Solution at Geneva Talks

Common Dreams staff

World leaders met Saturday in a bid to resolve the ongoing crisis in Syria. Tensions became clear in a growing rift between the US and Russia over how to handle the bloody conflict, that some say has transformed into a full fledged civil war.

UN International envoy Kofi Annan convened the meeting in Geneva, vying for his proposal of a "Syrian-led transition" that has been largely ignored by the ruling regime and the opposition in Syria. Annan's proposal would require Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, an approach supported by the US, Al-Jazeera reports.

Russia insisted that Assad's fate "must be decided within the framework of a Syrian dialogue by the Syrian people themselves."

"History is a sombre judge -- and it will judge us all harshly if we prove incapable of taking the right path today," Annan said at the start of a meeting. If the conflict escalates further, Annan was also heard saying, "Syria is not Libya, it will not implode, it will explode beyond its borders."

Russia has firmly opposed any deal that allows for sanctions and the eventual use of force, as Western powers have suggested, Agence France-Presse reports.

Phyllis Bennis from the Institute for Policy Studies comments: "The impact of a military strike in Syria could be even worse. For ordinary Syrians, struggling to survive amid escalating fighting, with virtually no access to electricity, water or medical assistance in more and more cities, the only hope starts with ending the fighting. The best thing outside powers can do is to move immediately towards serious new diplomacy, in which supporters of both the regime and the armed opposition participate, with the goal of imposing an immediate ceasefire."

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