9 July 2012
Last updated at 09:49 GMT
Kofi Annan says the UN Stabilisation Mission in Syria should now focus on political mediation
The UN and Arab League’s envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, has said he has held “constructive and candid” talks with President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.
Mr Annan admitted on Saturday that the international community’s efforts to find a political solution to the escalating violence had not succeeded.
A ceasefire was supposed to begin in mid-April as part of his peace plan.
Mr Assad earlier said the main obstacle was foreign countries giving political support and weapons to “terrorists”.
Meanwhile, activists said security forces were shelling parts of the cities of Deir al-Zour, Deraa, Homs, Aleppo and Damascus on Monday. More than 100 people were killed on Sunday, most of them civilians, they added.
Monday’s talks in Damascus were “constructive and good”, Syrian foreign ministry spokesman Jihad al-Makdisi wrote on Twitter afterwards, echoing Mr Annan’s comments to reporters.
Discussions focused on the implementation of the former UN secretary general’s six-point peace plan, Mr Makdisi added.
Mr Makdisi said both men considered the recent Action Group on Syria meeting in Geneva an important step towards creating an environment for national dialogue and a political solution to the crisis.
The Action Group urged all parties to recommit to a sustained cessation of armed violence and the immediately implementation of Mr Annan’s initiative. It also called for the creation of a transitional government formed on basis of mutual consent, which could include officials serving under President Assad and opposition members.
Mr Annan spent the night at the hotel in the Syrian capital where unarmed UN military observers have been staying since suspending their ceasefire monitoring mission last month because of the continuing violence.
Peaceful protests have been continuing in Syria alongside the growing armed conflict
“Clearly, we have not succeeded. And maybe there is no guarantee that we will succeed,” the former UN secretary general said in an interview with Le Monde published on Saturday.
He said criticism of the international community’s failure to negotiate a political solution had too often focused on Russia, which has opposed foreign intervention.
“Russia has influence, but I don’t think that events will be determined by Russia alone.”
Moscow has continued to supply weapons to Damascus, noting that there are no UN sanctions prohibiting the trade.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar have called for the arming and financing the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), while the US has said it is providing “non-lethal” aid, such as communications assistance. Neighbouring Turkey has meanwhile allowed the FSA to operate from its territory.
“All these countries say they want a peaceful solution, but they undertake individual and collective actions that undermine the very meaning of [UN] Security Council resolutions,” Mr Annan added in his Le Monde interview.
On Friday, he recommended to the UN Security Council that the UN Stabilisation Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), whose 298 military observers and 112 civilian staff are monitoring the implementation of his peace plan, should instead focus on political mediation.
‘Very good plan’
As Mr Annan was preparing for his meeting with President Assad, Syrian state television was leading its bulletins with pictures of missile batteries, warships and tanks conducting major live-fire manoeuvres.
The BBC’s Jim Muir in Beirut says the exercises were a clear message to any outside powers who might be thinking of intervening in Syria.
With his ceasefire in ruins, Mr Annan is now focusing on trying to win agreement on some kind of political transition, our correspondent adds.
The opposition insists any transition must include Mr Assad’s departure from power, something he again ruled out in an interview with German television on Sunday.
“The president shouldn’t run away from challenge and we have a national challenge now in Syria,” Mr Assad said. “The president shouldn’t escape the situation, but from the other side you can stay as president, stay in this position only when you have the public support.”
Mr Assad also insisted that the fight against “terrorism” had to go on, blaming Western and Arab support for the opposition for undermining Mr Annan’s initiative.
“We know that [he] is coming up against countless obstacles but his plan should not be allowed to fail, it is a very good plan,” Mr Assad told ARD.
“The biggest obstacle is that many countries do not even want this plan to succeed so they offer political support and continue to provide the terrorists in Syria with arms and money,” he added.
The UN says at least 10,000 people have been killed since pro-democracy protests began in March 2011. In June, the Syrian government reported that 6,947 Syrians had died, including at least 3,211 civilians and 2,566 security forces personnel.R Soft Web Hosting