Kicking off a week-long schedule of diplomacy geared to end the bloody violence in Syria, UN Special Envoy Kofi Annan met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other top Syrian officials on July 9, and called the talks "positive and constructive."
"I just had a positive and constructive discussion with President Assad," Annan said before leaving Damascus for Tehran Monday afternoon. "We agreed [on] an approach which I will share with the opposition," Annan added.
The Syrian news agency, SANA, reported that Assad again agreed to the Annan mission's original 6-point plan that includes a ceasefire, and discussed ways to better achieve it. Annan's next stop was Tehran, where he will confer with Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and with Secretary of Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili on ways to end the Syrian conflict, reported IRNA, the Iranian news agency. Iran was barred — at U.S. insistence — from the Geneva meeting of June 30 on bolstering the Annan Mission, but Annan insists that Iran is critical to the goal of ending the violence.
Annan's peace-seeking mission, and parallel Russian efforts, stand in stark contrast to Hillary Clinton's and the Obama Administration's almost daily threats to President Assad. While Annan was in Damascus, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was meeting a delegation of the Syrian opposition.