Annan seeks Iran, Iraq help in ending Syria crisis

Kofi Annan warned on Tuesday that Syria's deadly conflict could spread across the region as he held talks in Iran and Iraq aimed at shoring up support for his tattered peace plan.

But in an implicit rebuff to Annan's out reach to Iran, the United States insisted anew on Tuesday that it sees no role for Tehran in resolving the conflict.

A day after meeting President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, the UN-Arab League peace envoy had talks in Tehran and Baghdad amid new bloodshed in Syria, where more than 17,000 people have reportedly been killed since March 2011.

In Tehran, he stressed that the Islamic republic, Assad's staunchest ally, has a key role to play, and also sought help from Iraq, another neighbour of Syria.

"Iran can play a positive role," Annan said after meeting Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.

"There is a risk that the situation in Syria gets out of hand and spreads to the region," Annan told a news conference with Salehi, who hailed the envoy's "neutrality" and reiterated Iranian support for his mission.

But White House spokesman Jay Carney said the conflict will not be resolved until Tehran's ally Assad steps down and allows a negotiated political transition.

"I don't think anybody with a straight face could argue that Iran has had a positive impact on developments in Syria," Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One.

Annan also made a brief trip to Baghdad on Tuesday and said after talks with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that he would brief the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

The former UN chief's Middle East trip follows a meeting of world powers in Geneva late last month, to which Iran was not invited, to salvage his peace initiative.

A plan was agreed in Geneva for a political transition in Syria, which did not make an explicit call for Assad to quit, but the West and the opposition made clear they saw no role for him in a unity government.

After meeting Assad on Monday, the former UN chief said he had agreed with him on a new political approach to ending the crisis in Syria that he would put to the rebels.

"We discussed the need to end the violence and ways and means of doing so. We agreed an approach which I will share with the armed opposition," he said.

Speaking of Assad, Carney said "we remain highly sceptical about (his) willingness to keep his commitments, which is another reason why Syria's future cannot plausibly have Bashar al-Assad in the government."

"He's long since lost his credibility," he insisted.

Meanwhile, deadly violence showed no sign of abating.

The army rained shells down on the rebel-held central town of Rastan as violence killed at least 58 people nationwide, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Syrian Arab Red Crescent staffer Khaled Khaffaji was among those killed, prompting the head of the organisation, Abdul Rahman al-Attar, to urge respect for humanitarian workers.

Russia said on Tuesday that it wanted to host a new meeting of foreign powers on the Syria crisis but stressed that the talks should not decide Assad's fate.

Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov also said the attempt in Geneva to save Annan's peace plan needed to be continued with the involvement of countries such as Iran, which both Washington and European powers strongly oppose.

But the opposition Syrian National Council said its priority was to "work for the fall of the Assad regime and all its symbols," insisting there could be no political transition until the embattled president's departure.

The new SNC leader, Abdel Basset Sayda, is due in Moscow on Wednesday at the foreign ministry's invitation, the SNC said.

Annan admitted in remarks published by French newspaper Le Monde ahead of his Damascus trip that his peace blueprint has so far foundered.

He has previously expressed frustration that while Moscow and Iran are mentioned by some as stumbling blocks to peace, "little is said about other countries which send arms, money and have a presence on the ground."

Russia is sending a flotilla of six warships to its naval base at Syria's port of Tartus, the Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday, citing a military source.

The source said the flotilla's deployment would last until the end of September and "was not linked to the escalation of the situation in Syria."

The White House said it was aware of the flotilla's movement but does not see cause for concern.

"We currently have no reason to believe this move is anything out of the ordinary but we refer you to the Russian government for more details," Erin Pelton, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, told AFP.

Moscow arms export officials said on Monday that Russia will not supply new weapons to Syria while fighting there continues, while stressing that old contracts would be fulfilled.

That drew criticism from Amnesty International, whose deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa said "they must immediately stop all arms transfers, including technical assistance, to the Syrian government."

Lebanon, meanwhile, began reinforcing its border with Syria following a series of deadly attacks, a military spokesman said in Beirut.

Syrian troops traded gunfire with men overnight in the border area and shells fell inside Lebanon, wounding civilians, the army said, just two days after border clashes killed two girls.

Syrian state news agency SANA confirmed the violence and said troops foiled attempts by "armed terrorist groups" to infiltrate from Lebanon during the night.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Honda Launches the New Generation BeAT Fi
    Honda Launches the New Generation BeAT Fi

    Honda Philippines Inc. (HPI) recently unveiled its latest offering, the New Generation BeAT-FI eSP Series at the Music Hall of the SM Mall of Asia. Daiki Mihara, President of Honda Philippines, Inc., is confident of the potentials of the New Generation BeAT-FI eSP Series in the local scooter market. “The New Generation BeAT-FI eSP Series is a reflection of Honda Philippines’ continued commitment to provide powerful, safe, fun, and worthwhile driving experience to the growing market of …

  • US to China: Stop reclamation now
    US to China: Stop reclamation now

    The United States yesterday called for an “immediate and lasting halt” to reclamation works in disputed waters in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea, saying Beijing’s behavior in the area was “out of step” with international norms. To that end, there should be an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by all claimants,” US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told a high-level security conference in Singapore. …

  • Pinoys urged to observe Flag Day
    Pinoys urged to observe Flag Day

    Filipinos are urged to commemorate the significance of the national flag as the country commemorates Flag Day from May 28 to June 12, the nation’s Independence Day. The Philippine flag was first unfurled after the Philippine Revolutionary Army defeated Spanish forces in the Battle at Alapan in Imus, Cavite on May 28, 1898, according to the Official Gazette. “The national flag was yet to be formally announced on the day of that battle. …

  • House urged to probe ‘wash sale’ of treasury notes
    House urged to probe ‘wash sale’ of treasury notes

    Congress should look into what could be the anomalous wash sale of P14.3 billion worth of treasury notes last year by officials of the state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said yesterday. In a statement, Zarate said the questionable wash sale, covering 28 transactions, might be a fund-raising effort of the Aquino administration for the 2016 elections. The DBP Employees Union (DBPEU) on Friday filed a graft complaint with the Office of the …

  • Qatar court to rule on case of Pinoys charged with espionage
    Qatar court to rule on case of Pinoys charged with espionage

    Qatar’s Court of Appeals is set to deliver a verdict today on the three Filipinos charged with espionage and economic sabotage. One of the three Filipinos who was employed by state-owned Qatar Petroleum was sentenced to death, while the two others who were working at a military base were meted life sentence. The prosecution said the three Filipinos spied by transferring to Philippine officials military and economic information related to the types of aircraft and tanks to be used by the armed …

  • 16 hurt in Jolo police camp blast
    16 hurt in Jolo police camp blast

    Security forces launched a massive hunt for the bombers that set off Friday night two explosives near a mosque inside the Philippine National Police (PNP) Camp Asturias in Jolo, Sulu, injuring 11 police officers and five civilians, including three children. The attack appears to have been well-planned as attackers first lobbed a grenade and waited for responding policemen to arrive before setting off a bigger improvised explosive device (IED). Four of the victims are still in grade school, …

  • POEA seeks close monitoring of Saudi’s situation
    POEA seeks close monitoring of Saudi’s situation

    The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has instructed all recruitment agencies sending Filipino workers to Saudi Arabia to closely monitor the situation in the country because of the escalating hostilities in adjacent Yemen. The POEA issued an advisory instructing recruiters to keep a close watch on the Saudi provinces of Najran, Jizan and Asir, which are situated on the Saudi-Yemen border. The POEA also directed the recruitment agencies to submit a list of all the workers …

  • Army to provide treatment for corporal behind bus hostage incident
    Army to provide treatment for corporal behind bus hostage incident

    The Philippine Army promised mental health treatment for an Army corporal who took at least 20 bus passengers hostage in Camarines Sur on Friday, even as police filed a complaint for slight illegal detention before the Prosecutor’s Office. “If proven that he is mentally unstable, we will not abandon him. Rene Prajele showed signs of being mentally disturbed while in detention at the Del Gallego police station in Camarines Sur, adding that the officers who interviewed him could not get a clear …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options