UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan told the UN Security Council on Friday that he plans to send a team to Damascus this weekend to persuade President Bashar Assad to accept a fresh deployment of monitors.
Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General and joint UN-Arab League envoy on Syria said on Friday that he will send a team to Damascus at the weekend to discuss a fresh mission of monitors to Syria.
Annan, who briefed the UN Security Council from Geneva before talking to the media, warned that the conflict in Syria would have a "serious impact" on the region if it was not handled properly.
He also urged the Security Council to stand united. "I encouraged the council to speak with one voice as we try to resolve the crisis in Syria," he told reporters. "There have been some differences but that is also normal," he added, hinting at China and Russia, who have so far blocked UN resolutions against Syria.
They have vetoed two US and European-backed resolutions that would have condemned Assad's bloody crackdown, saying they were unbalanced and demanded that only the government stop attacks, not the opposition. Moscow, a longtime Syrian ally, has also accused Western powers of fueling the conflict by backing the rebels.
Positive reaction in Damascus
Syria welcomed Annan's latest initiative with state news agency SANA reporting that the foreign ministry "welcomes the visit of the technical team formed by envoy Kofi Annan to discuss questions linked to its mission in Syria."
Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari told reporters that Annan had embarked on a "comprehensive political process" to work out an end to the conflict and had imposed no pre-conditions on Damascus.
Meanwhile, Turkey said on Friday it might set up a "buffer zone" inside Syria to protect refugees fleeing Assad's forces. The Turkish government also advised its citizens not to travel to Syria.
Refugees are crossing into Turkey to be taken into refugee camps there. Ankara is concerned about their growing numbers, with memories of a flood of 500,000 fleeing into Turkey from Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War still on the government's mind.
ng/msh (AFP, Reuters)