Annan arrives in Damascus: spokesman
BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
EPA PhotoUN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan arrived in Damascus today, his spokesman said.
"The Joint Special Envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, arrived in Damascus this evening for talks with President Bashar Al-Assad," Ahmad Fawzi said, without elaborating.
The visit follows the international envoy's admission that his peace plan has so far failed to end nearly 16 months of carnage.
It will be Annan's third trip to Syria since the outbreak of the conflict, following a previous visit on May 29.
Earlier on Sunday, Syria's foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said the visit was intended to examine the envoy's moribund peace plan.
"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 told AFP.
The peace plan that Annan brokered 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 an April 12 ceasefire, a key part of the plan, was violated repeatedly despite being accepted 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 conflict 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 added.
"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.