Annan to hold talks Friday in Washington on Syria

UN envoy Kofi Annan will hold talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton here Friday as the international community tries to find a way to end the bloodshed in Syria, a US official said.

"There's actually quite a lot going on with Syria this week in terms of international efforts," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said Monday, as he dismissed a weekend speech by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as "out of touch with reality."

Clinton will attend a meeting in Istanbul on Thursday to discuss the unrelenting violence in Syria which has dragged on since March 2011, and will then meet with Annan in Washington on Friday.

It was not yet clear whether Annan, the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, would also meet with US President Barack Obama.

Annan has demanded a "serious review" of the deadlocked efforts to end the Syria violence, and was also to discuss the crisis at the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly on Thursday.

"The fact of the matter is... the international community needs to come together and unify around the idea that a political transition must happen sooner rather than later in Syria," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

"We support the Annan plan and we have even though we've remained extremely skeptical, with good reason, about Assad's willingness to comply with it."

Seeking to shore up the plan, Clinton spoke Monday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov "about bringing more pressure to bear on Assad, on the regime to comply with all six aspects or components of the Annan plan, including a democratic or political transition," Toner told journalists.

She told her Russian counterpart that Moscow, a key ally of Syria, had a "very significant role to play in trying to persuade Assad, using their influence... that the Annan plan offers the best way forward."

Toner also said that a sanctions group, led by Washington, was to meet this week to look at ways to "tighten, strengthen, better coordinate sanctions" on the Syrian regime.

"But that's not where we're stopping. We're obviously going to continue our work both within the UN Security Council and with the Friends of the Syrian People to continue the political and economic pressure," he said.

"So, you know, this is a multi-front battle, if you will, to keep pressure up on Assad."

by Imed Lamloum © 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Jun 4, 2012