News / Middle East

Kofi Annan to Mediate Syria Crisis; Urges Assad to Engage

TEXT SIZE - +
Margaret Besheer

Former U.N. Chief Kofi Annan urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to engage with him as he takes up his new post as the United Nations-Arab League Special Envoy on Syria.

Annan said Wednesday that he expects to go to Syria soon and his first priority is to stop the violence which has killed more than 7,500 people over the past year.

Annan met with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for about an hour on Wednesday to discuss his mission. Afterwards the two diplomats spoke with reporters.

Annan acknowledged that he is taking on a “very difficult assignment”, one that is a “tough challenge” and he laid out his priorities.

“The first thing we need to do, as the Secretary-General has said, is to do everything we can to stop the violence and the killing, to facilitate humanitarian access and ensure that the needy are looked after, and work with the Syrians in coming up with a peaceful solution which respects their aspirations and eventually stabilizes the country,” Annan said.

Annan, who was U.N. Secretary-General from 1997 to 2006 and is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, urged President Assad to engage with him and called on the international community to unite around his mediation efforts.

“So, one, single, unitary process. And it is when the international community speaks with one voice that that voice is powerful, and we should pool our efforts and work together. I am determined to work with everybody, and I am going to consult broadly, with all actors, and I think I am well on the way in that direction,” Annan said.

U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon warned that the situation in Syria has grown “increasingly desperate.” He said he has asked his predecessor to go next to Cairo to meet with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil ElAraby, then to see other leaders in the region, and on to Damascus as soon as possible.

Ban urged the Syrian authorities to extend their full cooperation to the Annan mission, and he expressed his disappointment that his humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, has not yet been allowed into Syria despite promises from the government that she would be welcome.

“I take this opportunity to remind the Syrian authorities of their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, and I call on them once again to work toward a peaceful, democratic solution for the Syrian people,” Ban said.

Earlier Wednesday, Valerie Amos expressed her “deep disappointment” that Syrian authorities are blocking her request to enter the country. The Secretary-General wants her to visit to assess the situation in the country, particularly in Homs, which has been enduring a government military offensive and rising death toll for weeks.

Earlier efforts in the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution supporting an Arab League plan to end the crisis failed when Russia and China vetoed the measure, saying it called for regime change.

The United Nations top political officer said this week that the death toll from the nearly year-long government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters is now “certainly well over 7,500” people, including women and children.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid