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Page last updated at 08:15 GMT, Thursday, 12 April 2012 09:15 UK

Assad 'fully committed' to ceasefire

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A spokesperson from the Syrian foreign ministry has said that the Syrian president is "fully committed" to adhering to a ceasefire between the government and opposition forces in Syria under a peace plan negotiated by the international envoy, Kofi Annan.

Jihad Makdissi told the Today Programme's Justin Webb that "we have already achieved several pullbacks", he said going on to say that the Annan plan asks for the cessation of violence from all sides, not just the government.

He said that social media could not be relied upon to monitor the violence, adding that "we have a clear plan to enable Kofi Annan's plan".

"The recipe for success is not only in the hands of Syria", he said, adding that it is also down to the country's surrounding who have said publicly that they are arming the rebels.

Mr Makdissi went on to say that "anybody who wants to change the regime should do it through democratic channels... and not through the wishes of the West".

"The way out is the evolution and not the armed confrontation," he said, "so all parties must come to the table for dialogue".

He maintained that "whether people like it or not", President Assad still has the support of the majority of the 23 million strong Syrian population.

The Today programme's Tom Bateman spoke to Abu an activist in Homs who said that although there is no shooting, there is no signs of the Syrian army troops withdrawing from the cities.

He said that there are tanks and soldiers on the streets and snipers on the roofs while the Syrian opposition army has withheld from shooting on the government forces.

World affairs correspondent Fergal Keane, who was reporting from the Syria/ Turkey border, said that the political crisis has not even begun to be addressed.

He said that the test will be whether the government will allow the huge demonstrations that were seen at the beginning to take place because it should be possible with a ceasefire.

He said that he thought the opposition will not want to be seen to be the aggressors and so would adhere to the ceasefire.

Behind the scenes, there has been a great deal of arm twisting of President Assad to make a political process work but the opposition will not go into negotiations that will see the president remain in power.


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