Annan Meets with Assad in Syria

Posted March 10th, 2012 at 7:15 am (UTC-5)
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Former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan has met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus in an attempt to end the Middle Eastern country's ongoing violence. Syrian state television described the meeting Saturday as “positive.”

Mr. Annan – the new U.N. and Arab League envoy to Syria – has called for a political solution to the crisis, warning that attempts to arm rebel forces will only make the situation worse. Mr. Annan is scheduled to meet with Syrian civilians before he leaves Damascus.

A human rights group said Saturday Syrian forces shelled the northwestern city of Idlib. It was not immediately clear if people were killed or injured in the attack.

Arab League member Qatar told a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo Saturday that it is time to send Arab and foreign troops to conflict-stricken Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also joined the meeting in Egypt. Russia and China have twice vetoed U.N. Security Council proposals that would have put pressure on Mr. Assad's government to end the conflict.

U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said Friday in Ankara that Syrian officials “asked for more time” to consider a deal that would allow the U.N. to help the victims of the ongoing government crackdown on dissent.

Syrian opposition groups said Friday at least 31 people died as thousands took to the streets across the country to rally against the government of President Assad.

The U.N. estimates that Syrian forces have killed over 7,500 people since the anti-Assad uprising began a year ago. The government blames “terrorists” for the unrest, saying that 2,000 of its security forces have been killed in the conflict.