- Bashar al-Assad - Syria - United Nations - unrest
UN envoy Annan in Damascus to meet Assad
UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan said he was "shocked" at the weekend massacre in Houla that left 108 people dead, many of them children, as he arrived in Damascus on Monday. Annan is to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday.
AFP - UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan said he was "shocked" at the weekend's "tragic events" in the central Syrian town of Houla as he arrived in Damascus on Monday for talks with top officials.
He said those responsible for the killing in Houla of at least 108 people on Friday and Saturday must be held accountable and called on "everyone with a gun" in Syria to hear his message of peace so that the bloodshed could be ended.
Speaking to reporters at a Damascus hotel, Annan described the Houla massacre as "an appalling moment with profound consequences."
"The Security Council has requested the UN to continue to investigate the attacks on Houla," he said, referring to a council statement adopted on Sunday
"Those responsible for these brutal crimes must be held accountable. I understand that the government is also investigating.
"It is the Syrian people, ordinary citizens of this great country, who are paying the highest price in this conflict. Our goal is to stop this suffering. It must end and it must end now.
"I urge the government to take bold steps to signal that it is serious in its intention to resolve this crisis peacefully, and for everyone involved to help create the right context for a credible political process," he said.
"And this message of peace is not only for the government, but for everyone with a gun."
Annan was to meet Foreign Minister Walid Muallem later on Monday ahead of talks with President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday, a Syrian official said earlier, speaking on condition of anonymity.
He will also meet with opposition and civil society representatives in a his bid to salvage his six-point peace blueprint, his spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said.
"I intend to have serious and frank discussions with President Bashar Al-Assad. I also look forward to speaking with a range of other people while I am here," Annan said.
"The six-point plan has to be implemented comprehensively. And this is not happening."