UN special envoy Kofi Annan due in Turkey over crisis in Syria
UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, gestures during a press conference with Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi (not pictured) in Cairo on Thursday, March 8, 2012. (Photo: EPA)
UN-Arab League special envoy on Syria Kofi Annan, due in Damascus on Saturday for key talks, is expected to visit Turkey in the coming days, Turkish officials said on Thursday.
Annan, who was appointed special envoy last month, phoned Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and told him that he would like to visit Turkey as part of his tour of regional countries. Davutoğlu said Turkey would welcome his visit, Foreign Ministry officials told Today's Zaman.
It was not immediately clear when Annan planned to visit. A report, by private news agency ANKA, said the former UN secretary-general wants to visit Turkey after his key talks in Damascus on Saturday.
Annan was in Cairo this week for talks with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby and Egyptian officials. On Thursday, he said he will urge the government and opposition to halt violence and seek a political settlement after a year of conflict when he makes his trip to Damascus.
Turkey is one of the staunchest critics of the Syrian government's brutal crackdown on anti-regime protests. On Wednesday, Turkish President Abdullah Gül said the Syrian regime was at a “dead-end road” and urged President Bashar al-Assad to agree to one of the formulas proposed for a political solution, including one tabled by the Arab League last month that envisages Assad handing power to a deputy ahead of elections in the conflict-torn country.
Amos to have talks with Davutoğlu
Meanwhile, Annan and Davutoğlu also discussed talks between Davutoğlu and UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos, officials said.
Annan told Davutoğlu that Amos seeks talks with him after completing her trip to Syria. Amos, previously denied access to Syria, began her visit this week and she is the first independent outside observer to visit the shattered Baba Amr since the Syrian military began its month-long assault of the rebellious neighborhood.
Syria had initially failed to grant Amos access to the country, but relented after growing international criticism, including from its allies Russia and China, for refusing to allow her to visit.