Assad offers point-man, says Annan
United Nations and Arab League envoy for the crisis in Syria Kofi Annan holds a joint press conference with Iranian Minister for Foreign Affairs Ali Akbar Salehi (unseen) in Tehran on July 10, 2012, after Annan agreed with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on a new political "approach" to end the 16-month-old conflict. AFP PHOTO/ATTA KENARESyrian President Bashar al-Assad supports the naming of an interlocutor between his administration and the opposition to explore ways to establish a transitional government as proposed by an international conference in Geneva last month, envoy Kofi Annan said July 11.
Annan, the U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, said that during his discussions with al-Assad in Damascus this week, the Syrian leader had proposed someone who could serve as an interlocutor, but the envoy did not name the person whose name al-Assad put forward.
“He did offer a name, and I indicated that I wanted to know a bit more about that individual. So we are at that stage,” Annan told reporters in Geneva after a private video conference session with the U.N. Security Council in New York.
In his closed-door briefing, Annan said he and al-Assad exchanged views on “how a political transition could be negotiated and unfold – which, I indicated, I believe should be able to be completed within six months to a year,” according to a transcript posted on un-report.blogspot.com and confirmed by a U.N. diplomat. “President al-Assad indicated that this could be possible if conditions were correct,” The Associated Press quoted Annan as saying.
He said the key was appointing “an effective, empowered interlocutor” with access to the president and who is authorized to negotiate on the basis of Annan’s six-point plan to end Syria’s violence and the guidelines for a transition and would be viewed “with confidence by those he or she must engage.”
Annan urged the 15-nation council to send a message to the Syrian government and the opposition that there will be “consequences” if they do not comply with demands for an immediate cease-fire, said Britain’s ambassador to the U.N., Mark Lyall Grant.
“He called for the Security Council members to put aside their national interests and to put joint and sustained pressure on both parties with clear consequences for non-compliance,” Lyall Grant told reporters after the meeting.
To accomplish that, he said Western nations would introduce a draft resolution threatening sanctions against the Syrian government and opposition if Annan’s six-point peace plan and guidelines for a Syrian-led political transition adopted in Geneva last month are not implemented. The proposed resolution would be under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, so could be enforced militarily.
Russia and China, key allies of al-Assad and veto-wielding council members, have blocked repeated attempts by the United States and its European allies to even threaten “consequences” – a diplomatic code word for sanctions.