Continued from page 2

Diplomatic efforts to solve the crisis have so far brought no result. But U.N. envoy Kofi Annan told the Security Council in a briefing Friday that he would return to Damascus even though his recent visit and talks with Assad saw no progress in attempts to cobble together negotiations.

Both Assad and much of the opposition spurned Annan’s appeal for talks.

Syria told Annan in a letter obtained by the AP Saturday that it is “keen to end violence” but insists that armed opposition groups must give up their weapons first.

The Syrian response falls far short of U.S. and European demands that regime forces stop fighting first — and even Russia’s insistence that both sides stop fighting simultaneously. But it does leave open the door for talks, and Annan is sending a team to Damascus on Sunday to continue efforts on implementing his proposal.


Karam contributed from Beirut.