March 10 diplomacy to seek solution for Syria
Syrian children arrive into Qaa village, in northern Lebanon, March 4. Up to 2,000 Syrians are crossing the border into northern Lebanon. Annan is scheduled to travel to Damascus on March 10, the same day Lavrov will attend Cairo meeting. REUTERS PhotoAs the joint U.N.-Arab League special envoy to Syria Kofi Annan is scheduled to travel to Damascus on March 10 for his first visit since being appointed to the post, Syrian ally Russia will join an Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on the same day.
“Kofi Annan told me that Syria will receive him on March 10 and that he would arrive in Cairo on March 7,” Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby told reporters at the group’s Cairo headquarters. Annan was appointed last month as joint special envoy on the Syria crisis.
Annan will be accompanied by his deputy, former Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Qudwa. Syria yesterday welcomed the upcoming Annan visit to Damascus, state television said, citing an official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday that he would join an Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on March 10. Lavrov said he hoped a meeting with Arab counterparts this week could bring the world closer to an agreement on how to help end the bloodshed in Syria but gave no sign Moscow would stop protecting President Bashar al-Assad.
Russia joins Arab meeting
“I think our meeting could produce very interesting groundwork that we would promote in a broader international format,” Lavrov said. He said Russia and the Arab League shared fundamental goals for Syria but criticized Western and Arab calls for Moscow to pressure Assad’s government. Also, China said it was sending a new envoy to Damascus and was ready to support international aid under the auspices of the U.N. or another “impartial” organization.
Meanwhile, the EU urged Russia to act and recognize the need for a new Syrian leadership. “We need to see Russia to recognize that there needs to be a new leadership in Syria,” the EU’s Chief Diplomat Catherine Ashton said. Annan’s and Lavrov’s separate meetings in Syria and Cairo will come right after a visit of U.N. Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos to Syria. Amos said Syrian authorities have confirmed she may visit the country. Amos said that the aim of the visit was to urge all sides to allow unhindered access for humanitarian relief workers.
Amos said she will arrive in Damascus on March 7 and leave on March 9.
Compiled from Reuters, AP and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.