Annan deputy blocked by Damascus
UNITED NATIONS - The Syrian government is stopping an Arab deputy to UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan from entering the country, diplomats said Wednesday, May 29.
Nasser al-Qudwa, a former Palestinian foreign minister who is in charge of contacts with Syrian groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad, has had several applications to go to Damascus turned down since he was named in March, diplomats said.
Jean-Marie Guehenno, Annan's other deputy envoy, told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that Qudwa had again been stopped from accompanying Annan to Damascus when he went there this week, diplomats said.
"Nasser al-Qudwa still has no access to Damascus and that in itself is inacceptable," France's deputy UN ambassador Martin Briens told reporters.
Other diplomats said al-Qudwa's case would be taken up by countries that still have contacts with the Assad government.
The Syrian government may be opposed to Qudwa because of his contacts with opposition groups, envoys said.
The Syrian government is infuriated by the Arab League's stance on the uprising in Syria which the UN says has left more than 10,000 dead. It has refused to even acknowledge the Arab League involvement in the Annan peace initiative.
But one diplomat also referred to "personal reasons" between Assad and al-Qudwa, who is related to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. - Agence France-Presse