Syria: Kofi Annan holds talks with Bashar Al Assad in Damascus


Kofi Annan met President Bashar Al Assad in Damascus today, as part of a bid to negotiate an end to the crisis in Syria.

Opposition activists said any attempt to get Assad to cooperate was pointless, as they reported more deaths in fresh violence.

More from GlobalPost: Kofi Annan's calls for talks rejected by Syrian opposition

Annan, representing both the United Nations and the Arab League, met Assad at the presidential palace in the Syrian capital. Syrian state TV described the atmosphere as "positive," Reuters reported.

"Syria is ready to make a success of any honest effort to find a solution for the events it is witnessing," Assad was quoted as saying by state media.

"No political dialogue or political activity can succeed while there are armed terrorist groups operating and spreading chaos and instability," he warned, however – which the BBC's Lina Sinjab in Damascus said sent a clear message that military action would continue.

Annan will also meet opposition leaders, though it unclear whether the talks will take place in Syria or once he has left the country on Sunday.

An immediate ceasefire by both government and opposition forces was the foremost priority agreed upon by Annan, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Arab League Secretary General Nabil Al Arabi, according to Ban. If both sides cannot agree to abandon arms simultaneously, he said, the regimes's soldiers should be the ones to do so first.

Annan has rejected the use of force to stop the conflict, and said he would pursue "realistic" proposals instead. 

However, the head of the opposition Syrian National Council, Burhan Ghalioun, told the Associated Press that no political settlement would succeed unless it was accompanied by "military pressure."  

"My fear is that, like other international envoys before him, the aim is to waste a month or two of pointless mediation efforts," Ghalioun said.

Meanwhile Qatar called for military intervention at an Arab League meeting in Cairo, Egypt, today, CNN reported.

"It is time to send Arab and international troops to Syria," said Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Sheikh Hamad ibn Jassem Al Thani. "I urge everyone in the Syrian opposition to unite and for everyone to recognize the Syrian National Council as Syria's representative."

According to CNN, opposition activists reported at least 12 deaths Saturday in the towns of Daraya, Idlib and Daraa, and in the countryside near Damascus.

Government forces were said to be shelling Idlib, in the northwest, as well as storming the city with tanks, Reuters said.

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