Annan Briefs Miqati on Geneva Talks, Imminent Trip to Region

Posted on: July 09, 2012 at 01:12
Prime Minister Najib Miqati has received a phone call from U.N.-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria Kofi Annan, the premier’s office announced on Sunday.

The two men discussed the current developments in the Middle East region, the PM’s office said.

“Annan briefed PM Miqati on the atmospheres and outcome of the ‘Action Group on Syria’ meeting that was held in Geneva,” it added.

The international envoy also discussed with Miqati the preparations for his imminent visit to the region, according to the premier’s office.

Annan is scheduled to visit Damascus on Monday, Syria's foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi told Agence France Presse.

It will be Annan's third trip to Syria since the outbreak of the conflict, following a previous visit on May 29.

''It is confirmed that Mr. Annan will visit Damascus, within the framework of his mission, for discussions with the Syrian leadership on the subject of the six-point plan,'' Makdissi said.

Two girls were killed and 10 other people wounded in north Lebanon on Saturday in rocket fire from Syrian territory, explosions and a gunbattle, hospital and security sources said.

Syrian television, meanwhile, said dozens of ''terrorists'' were killed in an ''attempted infiltration'' from Lebanon.

Syrian troops have carried out a number of deadly cross-border raids into Lebanon since the outbreak of the revolt against President Bashar Assad's rule in March last year, sparking fears of a spillover of the conflict.

The Wadi Khaled region encompasses areas of southern Syria and northern Lebanon and has been the site of frequent illegal border crossings.

The Annan peace plan had called for a cessation of all violence, free access for journalists and humanitarian aid, as well as a commitment to work towards an inclusive Syrian-led political process.

But an April 12 ceasefire, a key part of the plan, was violated repeatedly despite its acceptance by both the regime and the opposition.

The United Nations sent 300 observers to monitor the truce, but their mission was suspended in mid-June when chief observer Major General Robert Mood said the conditions for his team on the ground had become too dangerous.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon called on Friday for scaling down the observer mission in Syria to refocus on political efforts to end the conflict.

Annan told France's Le Monde daily in an interview that the 16-month carnage in Syria showed no sign of ending and there was no guarantee that his mediation would bear fruit.

''It's been three months since I have been involved,'' he said.

''Great efforts have been made to try and resolve this situation in a peaceful manner with a political solution,'' he said. ''Evidently, we have not succeeded. And maybe there is no guarantee that we will succeed.''

More than 17,000 people have now died since the uprising began in March last year, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The former U.N. chief oversaw a meeting in Geneva last weekend that agreed on a transition plan for Syria that skirted around the issue dividing Western powers from Russia and China: whether or not President Bashar Assad should have a role in a new unity government.
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