Last updated: 12 March, 2012

Annan briefs top Qatari officials after Syria trip

UN-Arab League peace envoy on Syria, Kofi Annan, held talks with top Qatari officials on Monday after a weekend trip to Damascus where he urged leaders to end the bloodshed there, the official Qatari news agency reported.

Annan, who arrived in Doha on Sunday, met with the emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to “review the developments in Syria,” according to a statement released by the QNA news agency.

He also held talks with foreign minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, during which “a way out of the current crisis” was discussed, the statement said.

Qatar was Annan’s first stop after his two-day mission to Damascus during which he presented “concrete proposals” to President Bashar al-Assad aimed at ending the escalating violence in the country.

More than 8,500 people have died since March last year when Syrians first took to the streets demanding democratic reform and an end to Assad’s regime, according to figures by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The statement said Qatari discussions with Annan were based on the Arab League initiative proposed on January 22 that calls for Assad to transfer power to his vice president until elections can be held.

Qatar has played a leading diplomatic role in regional and international efforts to halt the Syrian government crackdown on dissent.

On Saturday, Qatar’s foreign minister said the killings of civilians in Syria amounted to “genocide” and that a ceasefire was “not enough” adding that it was time “to apply the proposal” to send Arab and international troops to Syria.

He also called on all nations to recognise the opposition Syrian National Council as the Syrian people’s “legitimate representative.”

Annan, a former United Nations secretary general who is mediating on behalf of the UN and Arab League, left Damascus on Sunday without managing to secure an accord to end the bloodshed.

He was expected in Turkey later Monday for talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.