Ban says Annan set to return to Syria 'very soon'

UN-Arab League special envoy on Syria Kofi Annan is set to return to Damascus "very soon", United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday.

His announcement came a day after Western powers agreed to change a proposed UN Security Council statement on Syria after Russia refused to back any "ultimatum" to President Bashar al-Assad.

The proposed statement aims to reinforce international backing for Annan's efforts to halt the worsening bloodshed in Syria that the UN says has left well over 8,000 dead.

"Mr Annan briefed the Security Council on Friday, and I expect him to return to Damascus very soon," Ban told a defence conference in Jakarta.

Ban earlier said the immediate priorities in Syria were to end violence, begin political dialogue and provide humanitarian aid.

"Our priorities are three: first an immediate end to the violence -- all violence -- and engage in inclusive political dialogue to shape the future of Syria as civilian people want to create, and thirdly we have to provide immediately and urgently humanitarian actions," he said.

Speaking to Indonesian troops working as UN peacekeepers, Ban on Tuesday called the situation in Syria "unacceptable" and urged the international community to act immediately to end the violence.

Annan and Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi also called for a united international stand on the crisis.

A new version of the Security Council statement is now to be considered by governments after a day of talks by the 15-nation council.

Fighting broke out in the Syrian capital Damascus on Tuesday while clashes elsewhere in the country killed at least 30 people -- all but two of them civilians -- the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Source: AFP

Other news