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Annan to visit Syria on Monday

Former UN chief to make third trip to Syria since outbreak of conflict to discuss six-point peace plan with Syrian leadership

AFP , Sunday 8 Jul 2012

UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan is scheduled to visit Damascus on Monday, Syria's foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi told AFP. It will be Annan's third trip to Syria since the outbreak of the conflict, following a previous visit on 29 May.

"It is confirmed that Mr. Annan will visit Damascus, within the framework of his mission, for discussions with the Syrian leadership on the subject of the six-point plan," Makdissi said.

The Annan peace plan had called for a cessation of all violence, free access for journalists and humanitarian aid, as well as a commitment to work towards an inclusive Syrian-led political process.

But a 12 April ceasefire, a key part of the plan, was violated repeatedly despite its acceptance by both the regime and the opposition. The United Nations sent 300 observers to monitor the truce, but their mission was suspended in mid-June when chief observer Major General Robert Mood said the conditions for his team on the ground had become too dangerous.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon called on Friday for scaling down the observer mission in Syria to refocus on political efforts to end the conflict. Annan told France's Le Monde daily in an interview that the 16-month carnage in Syria showed no sign of ending and there was no guarantee that his mediation would bear fruit.

"It's been three months since I have been involved," he said. "Great efforts have been made to try and resolve this situation in a peaceful manner with a political solution," he said. "Evidently, we have not succeeded. And maybe there is no guarantee that we will succeed."

More than 17,000 people have now died since the uprising began in March last year, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The former UN chief oversaw a meeting in Geneva last weekend that agreed on a transition plan for Syria that skirted around the issue dividing Western powers from Russia and China: whether or not Assad should have a role in a new unity government.

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© 2010 Ahram Online.