UN-Arab League Syria envoy Annan seeks political deal

Reuters News
|
Posted: Mar 08, 2012 5:38 AM

CAIRO (Reuters) - Kofi Annan, the U.N.-Arab League special envoy on Syria, will urge government and opposition to halt violence and seek a political settlement after a year of conflict when he makes his first trip to Damascus on Saturday, he said on Thursday.

World powers have met behind closed doors at the United Nations to discuss a new U.S.-drafted resolution urging an end to the violent crackdown on protests against President Bashar al-Assad and calling for unhindered humanitarian access.

Annan was in Cairo this week for talks with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby and Egyptian officials.

"As I move to Syria, we will do whatever we can to urge and press for a cessation of hostilities and end to the killing and violence. The Syrian people deserve better. This is an ancient and brave people who are caught in the middle," Annan said after talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr.

"But of course, ultimately the solution lies in a political settlement. We will be urging the government and a broad spectrum of Syrian opposition to come together to work with us to find a solution that will respect the aspirations of the Syrian people," he told reporters.

Amr, who has joined other Arab states in pulling his country's ambassador out of Syria over the violence, said Egypt would offer Annan whatever support it could.

"He has a position that will allow him, God willing, to reach a solution to this crisis in the framework of the Arab League initiative. We wish him every success," the minister said after his discussions with the former U.N. secretary-general.

"We emphasized our readiness to cooperate with him in every step he takes," Amr said.

(Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Louise Ireland)