President Bashar al-Assad has told Kofi Annan, the UN and Arab League envoy, that no political solution is possible in Syria while “terrorist” groups are destabilising the country.
“Syria is ready to make a success of any honest effort to find a solution for the events it is witnessing,” state news agency SANA quoted Assad as telling his guest in Damascus on Saturday.
“No political dialogue or political activity can succeed while there are armed terrorist groups operating and spreading chaos and instability,” the Syrian leader said after about two hours of talks with the former UN secretary-general.
There was no immediate comment from Annan after the meeting, aimed at halting bloodshed that has cost thousands of lives since a popular uprising erupted a year ago.
Al Jazeera’s Sue Turton, reporting from Beirut, said observers are eagerly awaiting Annan’s assessment of the meeting.
“As of now, we are only hearing from one side, the Syrian state media. Their descriptions were positive but don’t sound terribly optimistic. It doesn’t sound, from the Syrian side fo things, that very much progress has been made,” Turton said.
While they discussed the crisis, Syrian troops were assaulting the northwestern city of Idlib, an opposition bastion.