Roundup: UN-AL envoy awaits reply from Syrian gov't on proposal

March 14, 2012 9:43 am 

ANKARA, March 14 — UN-Arab League (AL) joint special envoy to Syria Kofi Annan said here on Tuesday that he has been waiting for reply from the Syrian government to proposals on solving the Syrian crisis he put forward during meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last weekend.

"I am expecting to hear from Syrian authorities today since I left some concrete proposals for them to consider. Once I received their answer we'll know how to react," Annan told reporters after meeting with Syrian National Council (SNC) leader Burhan Ghalioun in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

Annan arrived in Ankara late Monday after a two-day visit to unrest-hit Syria. He has met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and informed the leadership of his talks in Egypt, Syria and Qatar and the situation in Syria, according to Turkish diplomatic officials.

"Let me say that the killings and the violence must cease," said Annan, adding his preoccupation has been the welfare of Syria and its people.

"We should put the interests of the people at the center of everything that we do. And I know there is a strong international community support. The whole world is coming together and working with us to resolve the situation in Syria," he said.

"With goodwill and determination I'm hopeful we will make progress," Annan added.

"We had a useful meeting with Syrian opposition members," Annan said, noting SNC members have "promised their full cooperation which will be necessary if we are going to succeed."

For his part, SNC leader Burhan Ghalioun said that they aimed a political and diplomatic solution, but added that some countries had promised to supply arms to the opposition forces if the Syrian government should ignore the efforts.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar had earlier indicated that they were prepared to arm Syrian rebels.

Ghalioun said there was a "race against time" for a political and diplomatic solution, adding they were at a turning point right now.

Besides, a Syrian dissident who had taken part in the meeting told Xinhua that "Annan told us that he asked Assad some questions, but the Syrian president has not responded yet."

SNC members, when meeting with Annan, listed three demands for a ceasefire, namely, releasing imprisoned rebels, withdrawing Syrian troops and ending repression on the Syrian people, the dissident said.

Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan extended full support to efforts by Annan. "I told him (Annan) that violence must end in Syria, humanitarian access must be secured, security forces should withdraw from provinces and the international community should work to pave the way for political transition process," he told the parliament.

The prime minister stressed that the mission of Annan should not be misused by the Syrian government.

Erdogan called on the international community to "take sincere steps" concerning Syria and said that the "Friends of Syria" group is expected to meet in Turkey's largest city of Istanbul on April 2.

Turkey, once a close ally of Syria, has repeatedly called on Damascus to stop violence against civilians and has imposed a series of sanctions against Syria, including an arms embargo. (PNA/Xinhua) DCT/mmg

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