Last updated: 24 February, 2012

Russia backs Annan appointment as Syria envoy

Russia on Friday welcomed the appointment of Kofi Annan as the UN and Arab League envoy for the crisis in Syria and called for an immediate ceasefire to evacuate wounded from the city of Homs.

“We hope that the work of this respected statesman will assist in solving the acute political and humanitarian problems in Syria,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement after the naming of the former UN chief.

“The Russian side will be ready for close cooperation with him in the search for mutually acceptable paths to solutions for these tasks,” it said.

Expressing serious concern about the humanitarian situation, it said Annan should work with both sides in the conflict and search for a peaceful solution through dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition.

“Moscow is seriously concerned about the continuing clashes between government troops and armed groups in a number of populated areas in Syria, above all in the city of Homs,” the foreign ministry said.

“We believe that it is necessary to undertake urgent efforts to end any violence that leads to the death of innocent people.”

It added: “The priority must be ensuring an immediate and mutual ceasefire for taking the wounded out of Homs and adopting urgent measures to satisfy the urgent humanitarian needs of the inhabitants in the areas of clashes.”

Russia and its diplomatic ally China earlier this month infuriated the West by vetoing a UN Security Council resolution condemning the regime of Bashar al-Assad for the violence.

Moscow has always insisted both sides, and not just the Syrian regime, are to blame for the bloodshed.

It said it supported a daily two-hour ceasefire in Syria for helping the injured civilians earlier this week.