Annan in Iraq Seeking Solution to Syrian Crisis
UN special envoy Kofi Annan arrived in Iraq on Tuesday as he continues his barnstorming tour of the Mideast in hopes of ending violence in Syria.
Annan touched down in Baghdad on Tuesday after a one-day trip to Iran, a key Damascus ally.
"My presence here proves that I believe Iran can play a positive role and should therefore be a part of the solution in the Syrian crisis," Annan told reporters in Tehran after meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on Monday.
Annan said he has "received encouragement and cooperation" from the Iranian government, he said but did not specify what support Tehran has offered.
Annan's trip to Iran came despite misgivings in London, Paris, and Washington, whose leaders are at loggerheads with Tehran over the Islamic Republic's controversial nuclear program.
The United States, its European allies, Gulf Arab states, and Israel all maintain Iran – currently suffering a loss of 40% of its vital crude oil export revenues due to crushing sanctions – is pursuing nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh says Annan will meet with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to discuss ways to end the bloodshed in Syria.
Al-Dabbagh added that Baghdad plans to offer solutions to the 16-month-old crisis, but did not elaborate.
Annan is hoping Syria's allies will exert pressure on Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in order to resurrect his failed six-point peace plan aimed at ending the Syrian crisis, which activists say has killed more than 17,000 people.
Annan's trips to Iraq and Iran came on the heels of a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus on Monday.
Despite saying it supports Annan's plan, the Assad regime has given no sign it intends to end the bloody crackdown it has waged against Syria's popular uprising that erupted in March 2011.
Instead, Assad has accused Western and Gulf Arab nations of actively backing a "terrorist" insurgency against his regime.
"We know that (Annan) is coming up against countless obstacles but his plan should not be allowed to fail, it is a very good plan," Assad told Germany's ARD network on Monday.
"The main obstacle (is) that many countries don't want (it) to succeed. So they offer political support and they still send armaments and send money to terrorists in Syria," Assad said, according to a transcript of the interview, held in English.