Annan meets Assad in Damascus
UN peace envoy Kofi Annan had constructive talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
DAMASCUS - Kofi Annan said he had constructive talks in Damascus on Monday with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who said the U.N. peace envoy's plan to end 16 months of bloodshed was being undermined by U.S. political support for "terrorists".
Within hours, Annan was due to head for Iran for talks with Syria's main ally in the region.
"I just had a positive and constructive discussion with President Assad," the United Nations special envoy said.
"We agreed an approach which I will share with the opposition," he told reporters. Once again, Annan stressed the important of halting violence and promoting political dialogue, the key points of the plan he put forward in April.
Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said in a Twitter message: "In both meetings we reassured Annan of Syria's commitment to implement the 6-points Plan and hoped other side is mutually committed."
In a television interview aired on Sunday, Assad accused Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, as well as the United States, of supplying arms and logistical support to the rebels trying to overthrow him.
"We know that (Annan) is coming up against countless obstacles but his plan should not be allowed to fail, it is a very good plan," he told Germany's ARD network.
"The main obstacle (is) that many countries don't want (it) to succeed. So they offer political support and they still send armaments and send money to terrorists in Syria," Assad said, according to a transcript of the interview, held in English.
Syria, led by members of a sect related to Shi'ite Islam, has alleged that the Sunni-led Gulf monarchies are supporting unrest among its Sunni majority as a way to check rising Shi'ite influence in the region, most notably that of Shi'ite Iran.
Anti-Assad activists in Syria reported army shelling and clashes with rebels on Monday in Deir Ezzor, Deraa, Homs, Aleppo and a neighbourhood of Damascus. Residents also reported the sound of gunfire in the capital.
An activist website said over 100 Syrians had been killed on Sunday, most of them civilians.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Sunday that Syrian opposition forces were growing more effective and the sooner the violence ended, the better the chances of sparing Syria's government a "catastrophic assault" by rebel fighters were.
While Assad has faced sanctions and international condemnation over his crackdown on dissent, major Western and Arab powers have shied away from direct military action.
Turkey has reinforced its border and scrambled fighter aircraft several times since Syria shot down a Turkish reconnaissance jet on June 22 over what Damascus said were Syrian territorial waters in the Mediterranean. Ankara said the incident occurred in international air space.