Russia to discuss Syria with Annan; Turkey says Assad blew chances of survival

A Russian official said U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan will visit Moscow this week to discuss his efforts to mediate a cease-fire in Syria, as Turkey said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad blew his chances of survival by failing to implement democratic reforms at the early stages of the Arab Spring.

U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan will visit Moscow this week to discuss his efforts to mediate a cease-fire in Syria. (Reuters)

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov also said Thursday that his country will meet with a Syrian opposition delegation, including members of the National Coordination Committee, one of Syria’s two main opposition groups, in Moscow in the next few days, The Associated Press reported.

Russia, a top ally of Syria, has shielded its government from international sanctions over its yearlong crackdown of an uprising. But Russia also has strongly supported Annan’s proposal regarding the crisis.

Annan’s six-point plan includes a daily two-hour halt to the fighting to evacuate wounded people and provide humanitarian aid, and talks aimed at reaching a political solution.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s foreign minister said Thursday that President Assad blew his chances of survival by failing to implement democratic reforms at the early stages of the Arab Spring.

“I don’t think that this regime, with these characteristics, can survive. It is against the logic of history and the flow of history,” Ahmet Davutoglu said in Vienna before heading to an EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels.

“A regime fighting against its own people, trying to keep the status quo, cannot survive,” he told reporters.

If President Assad had implemented reforms a year ago in the wake of the Arab Spring movements of democratic change across the Middle East, “he would have a much bigger chance,” Davutoglu added, avvording to AFP.

“But after killing so many people, convincing his people — it is not important to convince us, he must convince his own people — is very difficult, almost impossible … after all these massacres.”

Monitors say more than 9,100 people have been killed in a revolt against Assad that started a year ago with peaceful protests before turning into an increasingly armed revolt.

Davutoglu also said that he wanted “a joint international position and policy to act together” to ensure humanitarian access, not only to border areas but also to Syrian cities such as Homs.

“If it is of course prevented, a tough measure leading to humanitarian protection (is needed). This humanitarian tragedy should not just be watched on TV,” he said.

“We patiently are waiting for the P5 to agree on a resolution in the U.N.,” he said in reference to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

“Those who are talking on this issue should be acting responsibly because we are paying the price. There must be a quick action, there must be a joint position.”

Earlier Davutoglu had said that after a U.N. Security Council statement on the Syrian crisis on Wednesday, a “joint plan of action” was needed to end what he called a “human tragedy.”

“We continue to think that Syria is playing for time and we must do something to stop this violence,” Davutoglu told a news conference through an interpreter.

“Just making calls is not enough.”

Turkey broke its longtime alliance with the Damascus regime in November by calling on Assad to quit, and in addition to taking in around 17,000 refugees the country has become the main haven for opposition groups and rebel fighters.

It is due to host on April 1 a “Friends of the Syrian People” conference in Istanbul to pressure the Damascus regime following a first such meeting in Tunis on Feb. 24 attended by leading officials from Western and Arab countries.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will attend the next “Friends of the Syrian People” talks in Istanbul, an official said Thursday.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed Clinton would attend the talks in Istanbul after she took part in the first such meeting in Tunis last month that drew Turkey, Arab countries and western powers.

“Yes,” Nuland said when asked if the chief U.S. diplomat will attend the meeting.

Nuland said the meeting will build on previous efforts to end the violence, enabling the delivery of humanitarian aid, and launching a political process aimed at replacing President Assad.

Source: AL Arabiya

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