left corner left corner
China Daily Website

Kofi Annan to meet Syrian president

Updated: 2012-03-10 07:12
( Xinhua)

UNITED NATIONS - Kofi Annan, the joint special envoy of the UN and Arab League for Syria, is scheduled to talk with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the nation's capital of Damascus on Saturday, but he will meet Syrian opposition leaders outside the Middle East country, which has been plunged into the current political crisis since March 2011, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon said here Friday.    

"He's going to meet tomorrow morning President Assad in Damascus and he will be meeting some civilian society leaders and whoever he may think necessary he will be engaged in broadly with the government officials and civil society and humanitarian community," the secretary-general said.

This will be the first vis-a-vis meeting between Annan, who served as UN secretary-general from 1997 through 2006, and Assad since Annan was appointed on February 23 by the UN and the Arab League as their joint special envoy to deal with the crisis in Syria, where thousands of people have been reportedly killed since the breakout of the year-long crisis.  

"He will be engaging with opposition leaders outside of Syria," the secretary-general said.    

Ban made the statement just hours after he had what he called " the trilateral teleconference" with Annan, Ban's predecessor, and the Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby.

"Basically, all three of us share same concerns, same priorities, and same approaches," Ban said. "Our priority, is first of all, (that) all violence must stop either by government forces and opposition forces."

"I have very strongly urged to Kofi Annan to ensure that there must be immediate ceasefire," he said.

On Monday, Syria extended a welcome to Annan's upcoming visit to Damascus, reports said.

Despite an immediate ceasefire and immediate end to all violence in Syria, Ban said that the other two top priorities are the immediate humanitarian access to the people in need and the launch of the political process to seek a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

Annan's deputy, former Palestinian foreign minister Nasser al- Kidwa who was also the former Palestinian permanent observer to the UN, will accompany Annan on his visit to Syria.

After his visit to Damascus, Annan "will continue and also visit some key places to have some stronger support from those countries in the region," Ban said.

After his talks with Elaraby on Thursday in Cairo, capital of Egypt, Annan said, "The situation in the country, as you all know, is extremely serious for the Syrian people and the region. I think we should not forget the possible impact of Syria on the region if there is any miscalculation."

Annan said that "no one is thinking very seriously of using force in the situation," noting that any further militarization will make the situation worse.  

Meanwhile, the Ghanain statesman stressed the importance of diplomatic efforts in putting an end to the violence in Syria, calling for realistic proposals which can be implemented and achieve results.

The coming Annan-Assad meeting coincides with a Saturday meeting of foreign ministers of the Arab League in Cairo, where Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet with the Arab foreign ministers.

"Information coming from various sources is not very much hopeful from the point of the main task -- stopping violence," Lavrov said, adding that Moscow had information about Syrian opposition forces receiving arms and supporters from other countries.

The UN Security Council is expected to hold a high-level open debate on the current situation of Syria.

"As you may know on Monday, there will be a ministerial meeting in the Security Council where I will participate and many foreign ministers are scheduled to participate," the secretary-general said.

Earlier on Friday, Valerie Amos, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said in a statement on her two-day visit to Syria that "I was horrified by the destruction I saw."

"Almost all the buildings had been destroyed and there were hardly any people left there," she said.

In Damascus, Amos, who started to visit Syria on Wednesday to assess the humanitarian situation in the Middle East country, said she met Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem and other government ministers, while raising concerns regarding the humanitarian situation.

A joint preliminary humanitarian assessment mission to areas where people urgently need assistance was agreed on, she said.

"While this is a necessary first step, it remains essential that a robust and regular arrangement be put in place, which allows humanitarian organizations unhindered access to evacuate the wounded and deliver desperately needed supplies," Amos said. "A proposal has been submitted to the government of Syria and I ask them to consider this matter with the utmost urgency."