Last Updated: Mon Mar 12, 2012 06:52 am (KSA) 03:52 am (GMT)

Annan says Syria ceasefire deal hard to achieve, but remains ‘optimistic’

U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan visited Syria to press for a political solution to the year-long uprising and bloody crackdown in which thousands of people have been killed. (Reuters)
U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan visited Syria to press for a political solution to the year-long uprising and bloody crackdown in which thousands of people have been killed. (Reuters)

Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan said a ceasefire deal will be difficult to achieve in Syria but that he remained optimistic, following a second meeting on Sunday with Syrian President Bashar al-Assahd.

“It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be difficult but we have to have hope,” he told reporters in Damascus. “I am optimistic for several reasons,” he said, citing a general desire for peace in Syria.

Annan urged Assad to “embrace change” and handed him “concrete proposals” aimed at halting the year-old bloodshed in the country.

“I have urged the president to heed the African proverb which says you cannot turn the wind, so turn the sail,” Annan said. Syria needed to embrace change and reform, he said.

“You have to start by stopping the killings and the misery and the abuses that (are) going on today and then give time (for a) political settlement,” he said.

Annan, who also met religious leaders in Damascus on Sunday, said the situation was “so bad and so dangerous” that all Syrians bore a responsibility to “help heal and reconcile this nation”.

“I presented a set of concrete proposals which would have a real impact on the situation on the ground and which will help launch a process aimed at putting an end to this crisis,” the U.N.-Arab League envoy told reporters.

“The realistic response is to embrace change and reforms,” he told reporters after the Damascus meeting.

Diplomats at the United Nations in New York expressed pessimism about the prospects for Annan’s mission after troops poured into the northwestern city of Idlib late on Saturday just hours after his first meeting with Assad.

Activists had expressed concern that the city would suffer a similar fate to the Homs neighborhood of Baba Amr, which was stormed by government troops on March 1 after a month-long bombardment in which hundreds of people died.

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