US, France seek UN endorsement of peace deadline in Syria

UNITED NATIONS - Western powers have circulated a draft statement endorsing UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's request for an April 10 deadline for Syria to halt fighting and withdraw its army from population centers, French and US envoys said on Tuesday.
French UN Ambassador Gerard Araud and US Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters the draft "presidential statement" would be discussed by the 15-nation council over the next two days.
Annan asked the council on Monday to endorse the deadline, which Damascus said it has accepted.
Araud said the statement could be approved as early as Wednesday evening.
Rice, who is the president of the Security Council this month, said the statement was intended to give "further support to joint special envoy Annan's initiatives and to underscore the central importance of the Syrian government adhering to its commitment to halt all offensive actions by April 10."
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