"When the Syrian people desperately need action, there continues to be finger pointing and name calling in the Security Council," Annan told reporters in Geneva. "It is impossible for me or anyone to compel the Syrian government and also the opposition to take the steps to bring about the political process."
"As an envoy, I can't want peace more than the protagonists, more than Security council or the international community, for that matter," he added.
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Annan said the failed six-point plan commonly referred to as the Annan plan is actually the Security Council's, since it was endorsed by them.
He did not rule out the idea of a successor being appointed by the current UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, since "the world is full of crazy people like me, so don't be surprised if someone else decides to take it on."
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement Thursday he accepted the resignation with "deep regret."
"Mr. Annan has informed me of his intention not to renew his mandate when it expires on 31 August 2012," Ban said, adding that he is in discussions on appointing a successor to Annan.
"Kofi Annan deserves our profound admiration for the selfless way in which he has put his formidable skills and prestige to this most difficult and potentially thankless of assignments," Ban added.
Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin also expressed regret over the dicision, telling reporters that "we regret that he chose to do so. We have supported very strongly Kofi Annan's efforts. He has another month to go, and I hope this month is going to be used as effectively as possible under these very difficult circumstances."
Earlier on Thursday, Russia said it would not back a Saudi-drafted resolution on Syria at the UN General Assembly, saying the document was unbalanced and would encourage rebels to keep fighting the government of President Bashar Assad.
Annan and Assad in Damascus (Photo: Reuters)
The UN General Assembly was expected to vote on Thursday on the resolution drafted by Saudi Arabia, which is openly supporting the rebel forces seeking to oust Assad.
A Russian Foreign Ministry statement called the text "one-sided and unbalanced" and said Moscow would not support it in its current form.
The draft placed "full responsibility for what is happening in the country ... solely on the Syrian authorities" while leaving the opposition "outside the boundaries of the international community's demands", it said.
"In this way, it encourages (the opposition's) line of uncompromising armed fight against the Syrian government," the statement said.
Russia, which says both sides of the conflict must cease violence simultaneously, has shielded Assad's government from increased international pressure by vetoing three UN Security Council resolutions backed by Western and Arab states
Succumbing to pressure
Meanwhile, it was reported that Arab countries have dropped a demand that Assad resign in the latest draft of the resolution.
The draft resolution also no longer asks other nations to place sanctions on Syria over its civil war. In addition to Russia, the draft had run into resistance on those points from countries like Brazil, India and China.
A Security Council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was commenting on a General Assembly matter, said lack of support from those nations would have shaken confidence in the resolution among many developing countries.
With the tougher language, the draft was in danger of falling below 100 votes in the 193-member Assembly.
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