June 19, 2013
Annan frustrated over Syria, Russia gives no ground
International envoy Kofi Annan said on Friday he was "frustrated and impatient" a week after a massacre in Syria of 108 people shocked the world, but Russia said his peace plan was still the best hope for Syria.
Speaking after separate talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, President Vladimir Putin urged countries to continue to back Annan's peace initiative as the best way to avoid full civil war.
"Mr. Annan is a very experienced and respectable person and we must do everything for his mission to succeed. I think it is counterproductive to announce his mission as a failure in advance," Putin told a news conference in Paris.
"Sanctions don't always work. The main thing we need to do is to prevent the situation from developing under the worst scenario and not let a civil war take place."
Damascus says it wants Annan's plan to succeed so the crisis can be resolved through political talks.
But Syrian rebels, who agreed to Annan's April 12 truce plan, have urged him to declare the plan dead, freeing them from a commitment that both sides have repeatedly violated.
The plan calls for the government to pull heavy weapons back from towns and cities, after which both sides are to end violence and begin a dialogue, but it has stalled at the first hurdle.
Although refusing to declare the ceasefire a failure, Annan welcomed any further steps from the UN Security Council.
"If there are other options on the table, I will say 'bravo' and support them," Annan told reporters after talks in Beirut with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati.