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UN chief says talks with Syria envoy "very good"

03-01-2012 09:42 BJT

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 29 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that he had "a very good round of initial discussions" with Kofi Annan, the UN and Arab League joint special envoy for Syria.

Ban made the remarks to reporters here at the end of his first meeting with Kofi Annan at the UN Headquarters in New York since he was appointed last Thursday to find a political solution to the months-long crisis in Syria.

"We had a very good round of initial discussions this afternoon," Ban said. "We will be working closely and with great urgency in the days ahead."

"Following his meetings in New York, I have asked him to travel to Cairo to meet with the secretary-general of the Arab League," the secretary-general said. "From there, I will ask him to proceed to the region, including Damascus, as soon as possible as he will need the support of all those inside and outside Syria."

"I call on all parties to do their utmost," Ban said. "He will also be counting on the support of all member states on his diplomatic efforts including the Security Council. He will certainly have mine. I strongly urge the Syrian authorities to extend their full cooperation."

Annan, who served as UN secretary-general from 1997 through 2006, is expected to hold a series of meetings and consultations in New York through Friday, UN officials said here Wednesday.

Last Thursday, the United Nations and the Arab League announced that they have appointed Annan as their joint special envoy to deal with the crisis in Syria.

In a joint statement, Ban and Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El-Araby said Annan will serve as their high-level representative on the crisis, and will be supported by a deputy from the Arab world who will be chosen later.

"The special envoy will provide good offices aimed at bringing an end to all violence and human rights violations, and promoting a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis," the statement said.

The appointment was widely hailed by the international community, including Russia and China, two permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Earlier this week, Annan held separate talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe.

In his first statement on Friday, Annan called for the full cooperation of all parties and stakeholders to help bring an end to the current crisis in Syria.

Annan, in a separate brief statement issued in Geneva where he is based, said that he would hold a series of consultations in New York through Friday and then leave for Cairo to meet El-Araby.

The former UN secretary-general also planned to visit other countries in the Middle East after his meeting with the Arab League chief, the statement said, but it did not disclose any details of the proposed visit.

Since the unrest broke out in Syria last March, the number of casualties in the conflict has been rising amid unrelenting clashes and fights between government forces and opposition fighters.

The United Nations recently put the death toll in the Syrian unrest at 6,000, while Damascus says that more than 2,000 army and security personnel have been killed during the 11-month turmoil and blamed the bloodshed on armed groups backed by foreign powers.

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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