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Kofi Annan meets with Syrian President

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Kofi Annan meets with Syrian President

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(CNN) — A former United Nations secretary-general met with Syria’s president today in the latest diplomatic attempt to halt the bloodshed in the country.
But on the same morning, at least 12 people died from fresh violence across Syria, opposition activists said.
Kofi Annan, the joint special envoy to Syria for the United Nations and the Arab League, met President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus “to seek an urgent end to … human rights violations and to initiate efforts to promote a peaceful solution” to the violence that has wracked the country for nearly a year, his spokesman said.
Annan will meet with other groups later in the day, said Ahmad Fawzi, his spokesman. Those others may include opposition, civil society and women’s groups, he said.
Abdel Aziz al-Khair, a member of the National Coordinating Body for Democratic Change, said he is scheduled to meet Annan on Saturday afternoon. He said Annan’s visit with al-Assad “is a small sign of hope, yet so dim.”
“There is no way that we can have any dialogue with the regime until the security campaign ends,” al-Khair said. “They keep playing the victim role, (saying) that they are defending the innocent civilians while they slaughter them and blame the bloodshed on others.”
Annan will stay overnight in Damascus to see if he can get a response Sunday, according to his spokesman.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Annan will “try to broker a swift transition in which ultimately Assad steps aside and the people of Syria are able to choose an interim government that’s representative and leads to elections.”