UN special envoy Kofi Annan Monday said President Bashar Al Assad had agreed to a new “approach” to end the violence in Syria he hopes will be presented to armed opposition groups in the coming days.
“I’ve just had a very candid and constructive discussion with President Assad.We discussed the need to end the violence and ways and means of doing so. We agreed on an approach which I will share with the armed opposition.” he said in a statement from Damascus. “ I have a team here on the ground that will continue to do that. I also encourage Government’s and other entities with influence to have a similar effort.”
The former Secretary General also said Assad had agreed to move ahead with the political dialogue. Western governments and several Syrian opposition groups have already rejected any political transition process that would include Assad, but Russia and China have continued to argue the Syrian President should be part of a political solution.
Annan left Damascus for Tehran Monday, were he is schedule to meet with Iranian government official to discuss ways to end the violence.
The UN mission to Syria is up for renewal on July 20th. The team of 300 unarmed military observers were deployed to supervise a UN peace plan that was never fully implemented. The mission suspended patrols and other activities in mid-June after a surge in fighting between government forces and opposition groups.
The UN Syria mission’s future still remains unclear at this point. Russia and China both support its continued work and presence, while Western council members like the US and the UK, have questioned its value. The UN has suggested the mission could be scaled down to a smaller team that would focus on negotiations and diplomacy, until a sustained ceasefire allowed for the resumption of patrols and supervision activities.