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Annan Optimistic But Says Peace Deal Difficult In Syria


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (right) meets with UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan in Damascus on March 10.
UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan said he was optimistic after a second round of talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but acknowledged it could be difficult to reach a peace deal.

"Yes, it's going to be tough, it's going to be difficult, but we have to have hope," he said. "I am optimistic. I am optimistic for several reasons. First of all, I've been here for a very short period. Almost every Syrian I've met wants peace. They want the violence to stop. They want to move on with their lives."

In talks with Annan on March 10, Assad rejected any political dialogue while what he called "armed terrorist groups" remain active.

Meanwhile, Syrian government troops are continuing assaults in the northern province of Idlib.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that security and army forces stormed a village in Jisr al-Shughur city and engaged in search-and-arrest operations.

The new assaults come as activists say at least 60 dissidents were killed in the province in fighting on March 10.

With AP, AFP, dpa, and Reuters reports