UN presses for Syrian ceasefire

UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan said yesterday it would be hard to reach a deal to halt bloodshed in Syria, but expressed optimism after meeting President Bashar al-Assad for a second day. “I am optimistic for several reasons,” Annan said. “The situation is so bad and so dangerous that all of us cannot afford to fail." Annan said he had left “concrete proposals” with Assad for a way out of a conflict that has cost thousands of lives. International rifts have paralysed action on Syria, with Russia and China opposing Western and Arab calls for Assad to quit. The United States has drafted a fresh UN Security Council resolution, but Washington and Paris have said they are not optimistic it will be accepted.