Kofi Annan fails to kickstart peace talks in Syria

Former UN head meets rejection from both Assad's regime and opposition activists

After coming face to face with activists who witnessed the horrors of Syria's bloody uprising first hand, Kofi Annan left the country empty-handed yesterday without a deal to end the crisis.

Before leaving Damascus, the former United Nations secretary-general held a second round of talks with President Bashar al-Assad, during which he said he had proposed an initiative which "will have a real impact on the ground".

"It's going to be difficult but we have to have hope," he said, adding that the plan to end violence and start a political dialogue would establish a "solid foundation for a democratic Syria". But his parting words came after both the Syrian regime and opposition groups rejected immediate negotiations.

President Assad said he could not countenance a political solution while "terrorist groups" were still operating against him. Syrian troops maintained the heat on opposition strongholds yesterday, shelling Homs and using tanks to bombard Idlib, the north-western city close to the Turkish border.

Opposition leaders, meanwhile, said dialogue was unthinkable while the government continued its brutal crackdown, which the UN estimates has cost 7,500 lives. "It's impossible to think about talks while the army is shelling houses," said Dr Abdel Aziz al-Khair, spokesman for the National Co-ordination Committee, an opposition group which met with Mr Annan during his visit. The former UN chief met activists from the capital to the besieged protest hub of Homs and the southern city of Deraa in a 50-minute session at the Four Seasons Hotel in Damascus.

"He is very professional and was quite careful to show no expression at all but he clearly sympathises with what he hears," said Dr Khair. "We asked him about his conclusions after meeting the Syrian officials. He said that everything was still under discussion and it was too early for conclusions."

But Mr Annan's visit was dismissed as "useless" by at least one activist in Homs. A man who called himself Abo Emad told The Independent that the former UN chief's mission "would not help".

"You can't have dialogue with someone who is killing," he said.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager - Media Sales - £36,000 OTE

£28000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning company, whi...

Recruitment Genius: C# .NET Developer / Application Support - Junior

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This business has an industry r...

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: They make daily deliveries to most foodservice...

Recruitment Genius: Transport Planner

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: They make daily deliveries to most foodservice...

Day In a Page

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash