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Annan Urges UN Security Council To Break Syria Deadlock


UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Kofi Annan

UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Kofi Annan

UN diplomats say the UN-Arab League envoy on the Syrian crisis, Kofi Annan, has urged the Security Council to overcome its deadlock and unify in support of his efforts to end deadly violence in the country.

Diplomats quoted Annan as telling Security Council members that "the stronger and more unified your message, the better chance we have of shifting the dynamics of the conflict."

Permanent council members Russia and China have twice vetoed Security Council resolutions condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime for its ongoing crackdown on its opponents.

The UN says more than 8,000 civilians have been killed in the year-long violence.

Annan spoke to a closed session of the 15-nation council by video conference from Geneva about his recent talks in Damascus.

Annan, the former UN secretary-general, met twice with Assad last weekend.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on March 16 that Moscow, a longtime Syrian ally, was prodding the Syrian regime to fully cooperate with Annan.

But he said other world powers should use their influence with the armed opposition if Annan's mission is to be successful.

Concern Across Region

Annan has said his talks in Damascus were centered on the need for an immediate halt to the bloodshed, access for humanitarian organizations, and for political dialogue, which the opposition has so far rejected.

Annan, speaking later on March 16 to reporters at the UN's European headquarters in Geneva, warned of the serious impact for the whole region if the Syria crisis is not handled properly.

"The region is extremely concerned about developments in Syria," Annan said. "Their concern goes beyond Syria itself, because a crisis can have a serious impact for the whole region if it is not handled effectively."

Earlier on March 16, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) announced that all six member states had decided to close their embassies in Damascus to protest the Syrian government's continued crackdown against its opponents.

The GCC brings together Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait.

Also, Turkey on March 16 advised its citizens to leave Syria. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said developments in Syria posed "serious security risks," and that it had decided to close the consular section of its Damascus embassy next week.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government was also considering withdrawing the Turkish ambassador from Syria.

Turkish officials say at least 14,000 Syrian refugees have crossed into Turkey, fleeing the violence.

With AFP and Reuters reporting
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