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Syria agrees to UN's April 10 peace plan deadline

Syria's President Bashar Assad has agreed to an April 10 deadline to start implementing the peace plan proposed by Kofi Annan, the UN-Arab League envoy told the UN Security Council on Monday.

Annan's six-point plan, which the Security Council has endorsed, focuses on a UN-supervised ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons and troops from population centers, granting access to humanitarian assistance, release of prisoners, freedom of movement and access to journalists.

The partial implementation of Annan's plan would include a complete ceasefire within 48 hours of the deadline, diplomats who attended the closed session told AFP, according to Al Jazeera.

Syria's ambassador to the UN confirmed that Damascus has accepted the deadline, according to Al Jazeera, but said he expects the same commitment from the opposition.

"The Syrian government is committed, but we are expecting Mr. Kofi Annan and some parties in the Security Council also to get the same kind of commitments from the (opposition). A plan wouldn't be successful unless everybody is committed to it," said Bashar Ja'afari.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said past experience would lead the United States to be skeptical about Assad's commitment and to worry that violence will escalate instead of diminish.

"We certainly hope that is not so, we hope Syrian authorities will implement fully commitments they've made without any conditions," Rice said. "Should they do so, we would expect the opposition to follow suit within 48 hours as specified by Annan."

Syria accepted the peace plan last week, but the diplomatic breakthrough was swiftly overshadowed by intense clashes between government soldiers and rebels that sent bullets flying into Lebanon.

One diplomat said Annan confirmed to council members that there had been "no progress on the ground" toward halting the violence, which continues with daily reports of army shelling and shooting, and clashes with the rebel Free Syrian Army.

"Today doesn't feel much different than yesterday or the day before, or the day before that," opposition activist Waleed Fares said from inside Homs. "Shelling and killing."

Clinton tells Syria at Istanbul peace summit: 'The time for excuses is over'

On Sunday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ramped up her pressure on the Syrian regime in a stern speech to a summit in Istanbul, Turkey, warning of “serious consequences” if Assad fails to implement Annan's ceasefire plan.

She told the 60-nation Friends of Syria conference that "the time for excuses is over."

"Nearly a week has gone by, and we have to conclude that the regime is adding to its long list of broken promises," she said.

Clinton added that the United States is adding $12 million to its non-lethal aid to the opposition, bringing the total to $25 million, and for the first time, is also providing communication equipment to the rebels "to help activists organize, evade attacks by the regime, and connect to the outside world.”

The BBC reported that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states are creating a trust fund with millions of dollars to pay rebel troops. Those who defect from Assad's army would be paid to encourage defections.

The UN says more than 9,000 people have been killed in clashes in Syria this past year.

NBC News and Reuters contributed to this report.

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