February 27, 2012 / 2:53 PM / 7 years ago

UN-Arab League envoy Annan has first talks on Syria

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan makes a presentation on new ideas for fighting Poverty and Underdevelopment in Africa in Nigeria's capital Abuja, January 14, 2009. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

GENEVA (Reuters) - Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, now the U.N.-Arab League envoy on Syria, was holding separate talks in Geneva on Monday with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and France’s Alain Juppe, diplomats and U.N. officials said.

Annan met Salehi for about 20 minutes and was due to see Juppe later on Monday at the U.N. European headquarters in Geneva, before leaving for New York on Wednesday, a U.N. official told Reuters.

The two foreign ministers were in the Swiss city to address the U.N. Human Rights Council, which will hold an emergency debate on Tuesday on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s bloody crackdown on a popular uprising.

Iran is one of Assad’s few remaining allies while France has taken a prominent role in international efforts to isolate him to stop the bloodshed.

Annan was appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby last Thursday as joint special envoy on Syria.

In his first statement on Friday, Annan called for the full cooperation of all parties and stakeholders to help bring an end to Syria’s violence and human rights abuses.

Annan, U.N. chief from 1997 through 2006, brings global stature and experience in conflict resolution to his new job, but averting a long and bloody civil war in Syria that could further destabilise the Middle East may be impossible.

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