Last updated: 17 March, 2012

UN team to leave for Syria Monday

A UN team mandated by international envoy Kofi Annan will leave for Damascus on Monday, the former UN secretary general’s spokesman said.

UN-Arab League envoy Annan said Friday the team would discuss setting up an international monitoring mission for Syria.

“I hope they will have all the access that is necessary,” he added at a press conference in Geneva after a video briefing of the UN Security Council.

He told a closed meeting of the council that he was sending the team even though he has had a “disappointing response” so far to his proposals to President Bashar al-Assad.

He said his “six-point proposals” to Assad remain on the table and that he had “no illusions” over the scale of his mission to try to end the year-old military assault on protest cities that the United Nations says has left more than 8,000 dead.

Annan also said he feared that the fallout from the Syria crisis could affect the whole of the Middle East.

“The talking continues,” he said in Geneva, urging caution because the whole region is concerned.

The UN Security Council has been riven by divisions over its response to the Syria crisis, with China and Russia having blocked two resolutions criticising the Assad regime’s year-long crackdown on the opposition.

However Annan said he had been encouraged by the response of the Security Council’s members in his address and expected a unified response from them.

Syria’s envoy to the United Nations, Bashar Jaafari, told reporters in New York: “I would like to assure you on behalf of my government that Syria is committed to making Mr Annan’s mission successful.”

The “technical team from Mr Annan’s office” will discuss further issues related to the fulfillment of his mission,” he said.

Annan’s spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said Saturday that members of the mission would leave for Syria from both Geneva and New York.