Kofi Annan lands in Syria to promote peace plan
Kofi Annan, the UN and Arab League envoy to Syria, arrived in the Syrian capital on Monday for talks with high-level officials to restore the peace plan as Syria faced mounting condemnation after the Houla massacre last Friday.
The peace envoy was to meet Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem on Monday followed by talks with President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday, according to Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi.
Prior to the meeting with Muallem, Annan spoke to the press: “I urge the government to take bold steps to signal that it is serious in its intention to resolve this crisis peacefully, and for everyone involved to help create the right context for a credible political process.” Annan emphasised this message of peace is “not only for the government”, but also “for everyone with a gun”.
In the meetings, Annan hopes to retrieve and implement his failed six-point peace plan, as a means to call on the Syrian government to prove its commitment in restoring peace, after bombings in the village of Houla. Annan also calls on the Syrian government to immediately comply with the Security Council resolution endorsing the plan by withdrawing all of its troops and tanks from residential areas.
Prime Minister David Cameron and French President François Hollande reaffirmed their full support for Kofi Annan in bringing an end to the bloody situation in Syria. “Annan must have the means necessary to carry out the mission entrusted to him in very difficult conditions and the regime in Damascus must immediately cooperate fully with him,” a spokesperson from Cameron’s office said in a statement.
However, Jeremy Greenstock, the UK’s former ambassador to the UN, told BBC Radio 4 that he is pessimistic over the possibility of Annan being able to solve the crisis. Greenstock said: “Most likely scenario in Syria is the increase of the use of arms on either side and descent into further violence.”
Annan negotiated a ceasefire agreement last month which calls for the withdrawal of heavy weapons and troops from population centres, but hundreds of people have been reported killed since the agreement came into effect on 12th April.
The UN said at least 108 people, including 49 children and 34 women, were killed in the massacre in the central area of Houla last Friday.