Geneva: UN envoy Kofi Annan said that Iran should be involved in efforts to end the escalating violence that has claimed thousands of lives and forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.
Annan, the joint UN-Arab League envoy, told reporters yesterday that he was working to convene a so-called “contact group” meeting on Syria in Geneva on June 30.
The US has vehemently opposed the involvement of Iran, which Russia has demanded. Annan said the composition of the meeting is one of the sticking points that may not be resolved until next week.
“I have made it quite clear that I believe Iran should be part of the solution,” the former UN secretary general told reporters in Geneva, flanked by Major General Robert Mood, the head of the struggling UN observer mission in Syria.
“If we continue the way we are going and competing with each other, it could lead to destructive competition and everyone will pay the price.”
Annan said it was “time for countries of influence to raise the level of pressure on the parties on the ground.”
However, he had no specific proposals for changing his six-point peace plan, which he said Syria had not yet implemented but still might support in the future.
“The longer we wait, the darker Syria’s future becomes,” Annan said. “The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate. … We cannot just step back and do nothing.”
Mood praised the work of his 300 UN monitors, whose mandate ends next month. He conceded, however, that they are now largely confined to bureaucratic tasks and calling Syrians by phone because of the insecurity and dangers on the ground.
“They are keen to resume their work. Their commitment to the Syrian people has not faltered,” he said. “Whether more observers or arming observers would be relevant to the situation on the ground, I’m far from convinced that that
would help the situation on the ground.”
The increasing militarisation of both sides in the conflict has Syria lurching toward civil war. The failure of Annan’s internationally brokered peace plan has made it more difficult for outside observers, humanitarian workers and
supplies to get in, or reliable information to filter out.
“To be unarmed in a situation with ongoing violence is now always comfortable, but on the other hand it is our main source of strength,” Mood said.
Activists say more than 14,000 people have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime began in March last year. UN officials said yesterday that an agreement by Syria to allow in aid workers and supplies to four of the hardest-hit provinces has been delayed by the