Annan urges urgent ceasefire amid violence
Anti-regime protesters hold a sign referring to an Istanbul meeting on April 1 in Daraa.International envoy Kofi Annan urged Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to immediately implement a ceasefire as fighting raged on March 30, even after the embattled leader said he had accepted the peace plan.
“The deadline is now,” Annan’s spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said in Geneva. “We expect him to implement this plan immediately.” Annan plans to visit Tehran and Riyadh too, Fawzi said. There was no date yet set for the trip to Tehran, which was still being discussed with Iranian authorities. Annan will also return to Syria “as soon as the time is right” but he has no plans to visit Israel, Fawzi said, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, eight U.N. experts and three from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation said at least one million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance, summarizing their joint analysis after visiting Syria, Agence France-Presse reported. A U.K.-based monitoring group said at least five people were killed on March 30. A sniper shot a civilian dead in the city’s Khaldiyeh district, and two others were killed in the province of Homs, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
In Saudi Arabia, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was holding talks with Saudi King Abdullah on March 30 in a bid to crank up pressure on al-Assad. “Both sides have recognized that their common interests are much more significant than the issues that have recently been dividing them,” said Robert Jordan, U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2001-03.