annan holds talks with assad; to share syria move with opposition
DAMASCUS — Kofi Annan said he had constructive talks in Damascus today with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who said the UN peace envoy’s plan to end 16 months of bloodshed was being undermined by US political support for “terrorists”.
Within hours, Annan was due to head for Iran for talks with Syria’s main ally in the region.
“I just had a positive and constructive discussion with President Assad,” the United Nations special envoy said.
“We agreed an approach which I will share with the opposition,” he told reporters.
Once again, Annan stressed the important of halting violence and promoting political dialogue – the key points of the plan he put forward in April.
Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said in a Twitter message: “In both meetings we reassured Annan of Syria’s commitment to implement the six-points plan and hoped other side is mutually committed.”
In a television interview aired yesterday, Assad accused Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, as well as the United States, of supplying arms and logistical support to the rebels trying to overthrow him.
“We know that (Annan) is coming up against countless obstacles but his plan should not be allowed to fail, it is a very good plan,” he told Germany’s ARD network.
“The main obstacle (is) that many countries don’t want (it) to succeed. So they offer political support and they still send armaments and send money to terrorists in Syria,” Assad said, according to a transcript of the interview, held in English.
Syria, led by members of a sect related to Shi’ite Islam, has alleged that the Sunni-led Gulf monarchies are supporting unrest among its Sunni majority as a way to check rising Shi’ite influence in the region, most notably that of Shi’ite Iran.
Anti-Assad activists in Syria reported army shelling and clashes with rebels today in Deir Ezzor, Deraa, Homs, Aleppo and a neighborhood of Damascus. Residents also reported the sound of gunfire in the capital.
An activist website said over 100 Syrians had been killed yesterday, most of them civilians.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday that Syrian opposition forces were growing more effective and the sooner the violence ended, the better the chances of sparing Syria’s government a “catastrophic assault” by rebel fighters were. (Reuters)