Annan Meets with Assad in Syria

Posted March 10th, 2012 at 5:50 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 attempts to arm rebel forces will only make the situation worse.

Word of the high-level meeting came just hours after the U.N.'s top humanitarian official said Syria is refusing “unhindered” access for humanitarian aid.

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. She said Syrian officials agreed to a “limited assessment exercise” to get some information about the plight of those affected by the violence.

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 Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said most of the deaths occurred in Homs, the city that has been a focus of the government crackdown.

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.