Annan sending team to discuss Syria monitors

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 16, 2012 10:35 AM

GENEVA (Reuters) - Kofi Annan, joint special envoy on Syria for the United Nations and Arab League, is sending a team to Damascus early next week to discuss a proposal to deploy international monitors there, his spokesman said on Friday.

The former U.N. secretary-general held talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus last week in an effort to put an end to the fighting which has engulfed the country for a year and killed more than 8,000.

"I can confirm that one of the suggestions in the proposals is a mechanism for monitors," Ahmad Fawzi told Reuters in Geneva, commenting on a Syrian foreign ministry statement carried by the official news agency SANA.

"He is sending a team - a technical mission - to Damascus early next week to discuss details of this mechanism and how to implement other elements of the proposals.

"His next move will depend on progress made by this mission or lack thereof," he said.

Annan has presented a five-point peace plan including a ceasefire, access for humanitarian aid and political dialogue with the Syrian opposition.

Annan held separate talks with the ambassadors of China and Russia to the U.N. in Geneva on Friday, Fawzi said.

He is due to brief the Security Council from Geneva at 1400 GMT on Friday and speak to reporters in the Swiss city about an hour after his video conference with the closed-door meeting in New York.

"He will brief the Security Council on his work so far, his visits to Damascus and elsewhere, his talks with various capitals. He will go through the proposals one by one," Fawzi said.

Turkey said on Friday it might set up a border "buffer zone" to protect growing numbers of Syrian refugees fleeing a violent uprising against President Assad.

With the revolt entering its second year, government forces battled protesters in at least three suburbs of the capital Damascus, opposition activists said. They also reported flare-ups in other towns and cities.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Tom Miles; Editing by Sophie Hares)