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UN to end observer mission in Syria

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Churkin told reporters he wants the Geneva action group — along with "important actors" Iran and Saudi Arabia, who are not members — to make "a joint or parallel appeal to all the parties of the Syrian conflict that they end violence as soon as possible by a certain point in time."

Churkin said the appeal should also urge the government and opposition to appoint representatives "to negotiate towards a political solution, and in particular towards the establishment of a transitional governing body as provided for in the Geneva document."

Support for Arab League

In a letter to the council last Friday, Ban said the conditions for extending the observer mission had not been met, but he added that "it is imperative for the United Nations to have a presence in Syria" aside from its humanitarian operation in order to support UN and Arab League efforts "in mediating and facilitating a peaceful resolution to the crisis."

The Security Council initially authorized the 300-strong observer mission to deploy to Syria for 90 days to monitor implementation of a six-point peace plan brokered by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. The plan was to start with a cease-fire and withdrawal of the government's heavy weapons and culminate with Syrian-led political talks.

Assad's government and opposition forces agreed to the plan, but it was never implemented.

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