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Assad, Annan engage in talks

In a desperate effort to instill some peace in rife-torn Syria, U.N. Arab League envoy Kofi Annan held talks with Bashar al-Assad this weekend, but appeared to be making little headway.

Pressing political solution
The former United Nation’s chief was blunt in his remarks as he stressed on the need of a just political solution to Syria‘s year-long uprising and bloody crackdown in which thousands of people have been killed.

"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," Annan was quoted as saying.

Citing a general desire for peace in Syria, Annan, however harsh upon yhe mishandling of the uprising by the regime, still sounded optimistic. “The situation is so bad and so dangerous that all of us cannot afford to fail. I have urged the president to heed the African proverb which says: 'You cannot turn the wind, so turn the sail'”.

Ceasefire: An ‘Imperative’
The former U.N. chief Annan, now the U.N.-Arab League envoy, discussed his mission with current U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the head of the Arab League, Nabil Elaraby.

“I have very strongly urged Kofi Annan to ensure that there must be an immediate ceasefire,” Ban told reporters in New York after the conference call. After a ceasefire, he said, there should be “inclusive political solutions” found through dialogue.

As Annan and Assad discussed the crisis, Syrian troops were assaulting the northwestern city of Idlib, a rebel bastion that resulted in the killing of sixteen rebel fighters, seven soldiers and four civilians were killed in the Idlib fighting, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which said 15 other people, including three soldiers, had been killed in violence elsewhere.

Assad’s obstinance
Although the Syrian officials gave no immediate response on the outcome of the talks, but Assad was adamant enough to term the rebellions as ‘terrorists’, spreading chaos and instability that was blocking any political solution to the 11 month old uprising, that has already claimed more than 7500 lives.

"No political dialogue or political activity can succeed while there are armed terrorist groups operating and spreading chaos and instability," he said.

Softening his stance, Assad later stated that the “Syrian government was ready to make a success of any honest effort to find a solution for the events it is witnessing”.

Termed ‘candid and comprehensive’, Annan is due to meet Assad for another round of talks before leaving for Qatar.