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Syria Crisis: Assad Tells Kofi Annan He's Open To 'Honest Effort To Find Solution'

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Kofi Annan arrived in Damascus for talks on ending the violence
Kofi Annan arrived in Damascus for talks on ending the violence

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has told Kofi Annan, the United Nations envoy to the Arab League, that he is open to "any honest effort to find a solution".

However, Assad warned the envoy that dialogue was unlikely to succeed while "armed terrorist groups" remained.

According to the Sana news agency, Assad said: "Syria is ready to make a success of any honest effort to find a solution for the events it is witnessing."

"No political dialogue or political activity can succeed while there are armed terrorist groups operating and spreading chaos and instability," he added.

Annan travelled to Damascus in the hope of ending the violence, which has seen the army bombard the town of Homs for more than a month in a prolonged and deadly attack.

The envoy was expected to call for an immediate ceasefire, as well as place pressure on the Assad regime to allow humanitarian aid to enter the beleaguered city.

Before Anna’s visit Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, said:

"Our priority is, first of all, all violence must stop, whether by government forces or opposition forces."

"I have very strongly urged Kofi Annan to ensure that there must be an immediate ceasefire."

According to the UN, more than 7,500 have been killed since the uprising began in more than a year ago.

Annan was met by at the airport by Faisal Mekdad, the deputy foreign minister, before he spent two hours with the president.

He also met Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem.

According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the north-western city of Idlib has also experienced shelling, with the Associated Press reporting that residents were fleeing the city as army tanks rolled in.

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