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Koffi_annan.jpgKofi Annan, joint special envoy of the United Nations and Arab League, will travel to Moscow and Beijing this weekend for talks on the crisis in Syria, his spokesman said on Friday.   

A team sent by Annan has returned from three days of "intensive and businesslike" talks in Damascus on implementing his six-point peace plan aimed at stopping the killing, securing humanitarian aid and launching a political dialogue with the Syrian opposition, spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said in a statement.


"Mr Annan and his team are currently studying the Syrian responses carefully, and negotiations with Damascus continue," Fawzi said.


Annan will meet Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, but his programme in Beijing is still being finalised, Fawzi told a news briefing in Geneva. The Russian news agency Interfax has said Annan is expected in Moscow for talks on Saturday.


Annan announced a week ago that he was sending experts to the Syrian capital to discuss deployment of international monitors, part of his plan to halt the bloodshed that the United Nations says has taken 8,000 lives since the uprising began.


The team included senior political officers and also experts in peacekeeping, military planning and logistics.


On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council, including Russia and China, threw its weight behind Annan's efforts to end the bloody conflict in a rare moment of unity.


Asked whether Annan would be returning to Damascus for talks with President Bashar al-Assad, Fawzi replied: "He will at some point decide to go back, but this is not the time yet."

  "The crisis on the ground is severe as we all know. We have to make progress sooner rather than later. Every minute counts. He wants to move ahead as quickly as possible," Fawzi said. "A unified (Security) Council is extremely important. Many of those states have influence on the parties in question."

Separately the United Nations was presenting a regional plan on Friday aimed at providing assistance to Syrian refugees who have fled to Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.


The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, which was hosting closed-door talks in Geneva, said it was appealing to donors for $84 million to assist 100,000 people for the next six months.


So far more than 34,000 Syrian refugees have fled the country, according to the Geneva-based agency.


The Syrian Arab Red Crescent has estimated that a further 200,000 people are displaced within Syria.

Source: http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE82M05520120323?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0

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