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Kofi Annan leaves Syria without securing peace deal

The UN envoy was rebuffed by president Bashar al-Assad as he attempted to broker a ceasefire.

Doctors battle to save a Free Syrian Army fighter in Idlib, northern Syria
Doctors battle to save a Free Syrian Army fighter in Idlib, northern Syria
Image: Rodrigo Abd/AP/Press Association Images

A HIGH-PROFILE visit to Syria by UN envoy by Kofi Annan has ended without a deal as regime forces mounted a new assault on rebel strongholds in the north.

Annan said he presented President Bashar Assad with concrete proposals “which will have a real impact on the ground.”

“Once it’s agreed, it will help launch the process and help end the crisis on the ground,” he told reporters at the end of his two-day visit to Syria.

Annan, who also met with Syrian opposition leaders and businessmen in Damascus, said he was optimistic following two sets of talks with Assad, but acknowledged that resolving the crisis would be tough.

“It’s going to be difficult but we have to have hope,” he said.

The former UN chief called for reforms that would create “a solid foundation for a democratic Syria,” but added: “You have to start by stopping the killing and the misery and the abuse that is going on today and then give time for a political settlement.”

The ongoing bloodshed cast a pall over the UN efforts to end the country’s yearlong conflict, with both the regime and the opposition refusing talks with the other.

In his discussions with Assad on Saturday, Annan made several proposals to end the political crisis and start a political dialogue. He was rebuffed by the president who rejected any immediate negotiations with the opposition, striking a further blow to already faltering international efforts for talks to end the conflict.

Assad told Annan that a political solution is impossible as long as “terrorist groups” threaten the country.

The opposition’s political leadership has also rejected dialogue, saying talk is impossible after a crackdown that the UN estimates has killed more than 7,500 people. That makes it likely that the conflict will continue to edge toward civil war.

More: Syria forces in new assault as diplomatic talks break down>

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