U.N.-Arab League envoy Annan to Syria on March 10

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 05, 2012 9:09 AM
U.N.-Arab League envoy Annan to Syria on March 10

CAIRO (Reuters) - The joint UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, will travel to Damascus on March 10 for his first visit since being appointed to the post, the organization said on Monday.

"Kofi Annan told me that Syria will receive him on March 10 and that he would arrive in Cairo on March 7," Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby told reporters at the group's Cairo headquarters.

Annan was appointed last month as joint special envoy on the Syria crisis.

The United Nations says more than 7,500 people have been killed in an almost year-long crackdown on demonstrators against President Bashar al-Assad that was inspired by other 'Arab Spring' uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa.

Nasser al-Kidwa, a Palestinian diplomat, was appointed on Monday as deputy to Annan and is expected to travel with him to Syria, Elaraby said.

Kidwa told reporters in Cairo on Monday that he is hopeful a political solution could be reached in Syria and described his new mission as "very difficult," according to the Palestinian News Agency WAFA.

Kidwa, a nephew of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, is a member of current President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement and has previously served as a foreign minister and an envoy to the United Nations.

Kidwa was appointed after consultations with Annan and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the League said.

(Reporting by Ayman Samir, Additional reporting by Omar Fahmy in Cairo and Ali Sawafta in Ramallah, Writing by Edmund Blair and Yasmine Saleh,Editing by Tom Pfeiffer and Robin Pomeroy)