Pressure mounting for Syria cease-fire

Pressure mounting for Syria cease-fire

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Pressure mounting for Syria cease-fire

Syrian rebels take position during clashes with regime forces in Idlib, bordering city with Turkey. UN-Arab League envoy Annan (inset L) meets with SNC’s head Ghalioun in Ankara. AP photo

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ruled out recognizing Kofi Annan as a U.N.-Arab League envoy at last weekend’s talks in Damascus, dismissing the League from the process, Hürriyet Daily News has learned.

In their discussions in Damascus last weekend, al-Assad told Annan that he could recognize him only as a U.N. envoy and not as representative of the Arab League.

U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan said he was waiting for an answer from the Syrian administration on proposals that he put forward to end violence during his talks with al-Assad over the weekend. “I am expecting to hear from the Syrian authorities today, as I left some concrete proposals for them to consider. Once I have received their answer we’ll know how to react,” Annan told reporters yesterday.
The envoy was first expecting a declaration of intention from al-Assad to launch a settlement process, sources told the Daily News, adding that the Syrian President was ruling out any settlement plan associated with Arab League.

Syrian opposition’s three conditions

Annan had talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu late March 12 and met with the Syrian National Council yesterday, seeking grounds for ceasefire. In a meeting with Annan, the Syrian opposition outlined three simultaneous conditions for a ceasefire. “The Syrian administration must end repression, release rebels in the prisons and the Syrian army must return to their barracks,” Basma Qadmani, a member of the Council told the Daily News after their meeting with Annan.

Qadmani said they had not discussed arming the Syrian opposition, but rather the ways to enact a ceasefire. He added that they believed “the freedom fighters themselves will immediately cease fire on the ground as well.” Annan said the opposition members had “promised their full cooperation, which will be necessary if we are going to succeed […] I have made it clear from the beginning of my mission that my main preoccupation is the welfare of Syrian people and the Syrian nation. We should put the interest of people at the centre of everything we do.”

Friends of Syria on April 2

“With goodwill and determination I am hopeful we will make progress,” the envoy added. Speaking to reporters, Syrian opposition leader Burhan Ghalioun said the movement was aiming for a political and diplomatic solution, but if the Syrian administration ignored efforts and continued repression, some foreign countries had promised to supply weapons to opposition forces.The next meeting of Friends of Syria group will take place in Istanbul on April 2, Prime Minister Erdoğan said yesterday speaking in Parliament.

He extended full support to efforts by Annan and stressed that the violence should end, humanitarian access should be enabled, security forces should be withdrawn from city centers and the international community should look to pave the way for a political transition process in Syria. Erdoğan also underlined that Annan’s mission should not be abused by the Syrian regime.