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Annan to renew talks with Assad

UN – Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, on a two-day peace mission to Damascus, was due to hold a second round of talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. On the first day of talks, President Assad rejected any political dialogue while “armed terrorist groups” were operating in the country, BBC informs. Mr Annan is trying to arrange a ceasefire and gain greater access for humanitarian aid agencies. He was later travel on to neighbouring countries, the UN said.Diplomatic sources say his first port of call may well be Turkey, which has taken a tough line against President Assad’s deadly crackdown. President Assad is trying to crush a increasingly armed rebellion that sprang from the harsh crackdown of peaceful pro-democracy protests. The UN says more than 7,500 people have died since unrest began a year ago. Fighting on Saturday left at least 63 people dead, activists said, with heavy shelling reported in the northern town of Idlib. Syrian state TV said Mr Annan’s first round of talks took place in a “positive” atmosphere. Mr Assad is reported to have said: “Syria is ready to make a success of any honest effort to find a solution for the events it is witnessing.On Saturday Mr Annan also met leaders of some Damascus-based opposition groups, including Hassan Abdulazim, head of the Syrian Opposing Co-ordination Body.“We asked Kofi Annan to co-ordinate with the Arab League and its efforts,” said Mr Abdulazim.

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