Photo: AP
Kofi Annan
Photo: AP

UN envoy Annan in Iran for talks on Syria crisis

Former UN chief to try and convince Tehran to push Damascus to withdraw troops, halt brutal crackdown on civilians; says Syrian government sgreed to 'respect ceasefire'

The UN and Arab League welcome Iran's support for their efforts to secure peace in Syria, international envoy on Syria Kofi Annan said Wednesday.


The former UN chief arrived in Iran on Tuesday, amid continued attempts to find a peaceful resolution to the Syrian crisis. Annan and his six aides will meet with several Iranian leaders on Wednesday to discuss ongoing violence in Syria.


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Annan said he has received assurances from the Syrian government by which they will respect the ceasefire: "I have received government assurances they will respect the ceasefire. If everyone respects it I think by 6 in the morning on Thursday we shall see imporveed conditions on the ground."


Following a meeting with Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi Annan said that Iran can play a key role in devising a solution.



He stressed the urgency of resolving the volatile situation in Syria, and the need to end Syrian President Bashar Assad's brutal crackdown on civilian; which will facilitate humanitarian assistance to the war torn country.


"The political process must be Syrian-led and respect the aspirations of the Syrian people," Annan said. "What is important is that governments in the region and beyond work with Syria to resolve the crisis."


Iran is Syria's main ally in the region. Annan has been pushing Damascus to withdraw its troops from cities and halt all violence in 48 hours to salvage his peace plan.


'Give Assad more time'

Salehi told reporters that Iran supports Annan's efforts but said that Assad's government needed to be given time to implement promised reforms.


"We believe the people of Syria, like other countries, have the right to enjoy all the rights enjoyed by other world nations, such as freedom of political parties, freedom of elections, a constitution that encompasses all the wishes of a nation," he said.


"At the same time, we have announced that we oppose interference in the affairs of all countries, including Syria."


Annan and Salehi (Photo: AFP)


Annan said Tuesday that there should be no preconditions to halting violence in Syria and insisted a UN-sponsored peace plan designed to stem 13-months of conflict was still on the table.


Just hours before the end-of-day deadline for Syria to implement the ceasefire plan, Annan said Syrian forces had withdrawn from some areas but moved to others not previously targeted, and the situation was not as he had hoped.


"I believe it's a bit too early to say that the plan has failed, the plan is still on the table," he told a news conference at the airport in Hatay province in southern Turkey.


"It's a plan we're all fighting to implement... it's a plan the Syrians have endorsed and from the comments made by the opposition, they're also prepared to go along with it if the government meets its commitments to pull the troops out."


Earlier on Tuesday Syria's foreign minister, speaking in Moscow, said Damascus wanted guarantees from Annan that armed groups attacking its troops would commit to a ceasefire.


"I believe there should be no preconditions for stopping violence. That is something we need to do for the people and for the country concerned," Annan said.


"I had hoped that by now we would have been much further ahead along the road to the government of Syria honoring its commitments and all the parties beginning to take steps to end all violence."


"We still have time between now and the 12th to stop the violence," he added.


AP and Reuters contributed to this report



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פרסום ראשון: 04.11.12, 08:50
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