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Annan to put new approach to Syria rebels

Peace envoy in Tehran ‘to see how we can work together to help settle the situation’

Kofi Annan with Bashar Al Assad
Image Credit: AP
This photo released by the Syrian official news agency Sana, shows United Nations-Arab League special envoy to Syria Kofi Annan (left) meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad (centre) in Damascus, Syria on July 9, 2012.
Gulf News

Damascus: International envoy Kofi Annan said he agreed with President Bashar Al Assad on Monday on a new political “approach” to end Syria’s 16-month-old conflict that he would put to the rebels.

Stepping up efforts to halt the carnage which monitors say has cost more than 17,000 lives, the UN-Arab League envoy then travelled on to Iran, Syria’s closest ally, in his quest to find a solution.

“We discussed the need to end the violence and ways and means of doing so. We agreed an approach which I will share with the armed opposition,” Annan said after meeting Al Assad in Damascus.

The former UN chief said he had a “constructive” meeting with Al Assad, on his third such mission for talks on his six-point peace plan for Syria since his appointment in February.

Pro-government Al Watan newspaper said the talks focused on the results of the Geneva meeting at the end of June of an international contact group on Syria.

They discussed means “to implement the results of the meeting... on forming a transitional government in Syria that groups government and opposition representatives without mention of [Al] Assad’s departure.”

The opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) slammed Annan’s decision to meet Al Assad, saying thousands of people have been killed despite an April ceasefire that is a key point of the envoy’s plan.

Annan flew later to Tehran for talks with Saeed Jalili, Iran’s top security official, and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.

Annan’s spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said the envoy would discuss Syria in light of the Geneva meeting “and to see how we can work together to help settle the situation in Syria.”

Earlier Russian President Vladimir Putin said Syria needed dialogue between the regime and opposition, rather than foreign intervention, to ensure a lasting peace.

Putin spoke after prominent Syrian opposition leader and intellectual Michel Kilo met Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

Russia also signalled that it would not sign new weapons contracts with Syria until the situation there calms down.

The country will continue with previously agreed exports, but will not be selling new arms to Syria, Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, deputy chief of the Russian military and technical cooperation agency, told Russian news agencies on the sidelines of the Farnborough air show southwest off London.