WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the ceasefire in Syria is an "important step" if it holds and urged Damascus to implement special envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan.
"If it holds, a ceasefire is an important step, but it represents just one element of the special envoy's plan," Clinton told reporters after talks with Group of Eight foreign ministers in Washington.
Citing Annan, she said President Bashar al-Assad's regime has failed to withdraw its forces from population centers in line with the plan brokered by Annan, the UN and Arab League envoy.
It also "remains to be seen" if the regime respects its commitment to permit peaceful demonstrations, allow open access for aid workers and journalists as well as begin a democratic political transition.
"The Annan plan is not a menu of options. It is a set of obligations," Clinton said, putting the burden of meeting the obligations on the regime. "They cannot pick and choose," she said.
She said the apparent halt in violence must lead to a "credible" political process and a "peaceful inclusive democratic transition."
The chief US diplomat also renewed Washington's calls for Assad to step down, although the Annan plan does not explicitly calls for such a development.
Accusing the Assad regime of breaking past promises for peace, she said the United States will be watching developments closely and keeping in touch with the Syrian opposition as part of efforts to watch events on the ground.
She said the United States also supports UN plans to send an advance team "immediately" to visit Syria to pave the way for deploying monitors to observe the ceasefire is being carried out.
"Both will need complete freedom of movement, unimpeded communications and access throughout the country and to all Syrians as well as firm security guarantees from all parties," she said. (AFP)