ARAB MINISTERS TO MEET AGAIN ON SYRIA
Last Updated: 2012-08-12
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DAMASCUS, Aug. 12 (NNN-Xinhua) -- As the Syrian government forces and the armed opposition continue their fierce fighting in various regions, foreign ministers of the Arab League (AL) members are setting out for another meeting as part of their efforts to help work out a solution to the ongoing crisis in Syria.

The ministerial meeting, to be convened in Saudi Arabia's port city of Jeddah on Sunday, will discuss the Syrian crisis and a possible replacement of UN-AL joint envoy Kofi Annan, who said earlier he would step down after his current mandate expires on Aug. 31.

The former UN chief was appointed as UN-AL joint envoy on Syria five months ago. His six-point peace plan to solve the Syria crisis, though widely applauded by many world powers, failed to bring any real change on the ground and only witnessed the conflict-torn country slide further into civil war.

Annan suggested his decision to resign was due to the absence of a single voice on Syria by the international community.

The United States and some other Western countries have been explicit about their demand for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down and used both diplomatic and economic maneuvers to exert pressure on the Syrian government.

Together with some Arab countries, they have also agreed to provide assistance to the Syrian opposition.

Meanwhile, Russia and China insist any proposed resolution on Syria should be balanced, stipulating binding articles for both the government and opposition.

The two UN Security Council permanent members have also made clear their opposition to any outside military intervention on Syria.

Right across the border with Syria, Turkey on Saturday received a guest from the United States.

Speaking after a meeting with her Turkish counterpart, visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the two sides decided to set up a formal working group to tighten military and intelligence coordination on Syria.

The two governments will also work out details of contingency plans in case of "chemical attacks" by Syrian government forces, Clinton said.

When asked about the possibility of setting up a no-fly zone in regions claimed to be controlled by Syrian rebels, she said no decision has been made in this regard.

"It's one thing to talk about all kinds of potential actions, but you cannot make reasoned decisions without doing intense analysis and operational planning."

The imposition of no-fly zones by foreign powers is believed to have played a crucial role in helping Libyan rebels overthrow Muammar Gaddafi last year. But the United States and its European allies have so far made no explicit statements on military involvement in Syria.

After days of fierce fighting surrounding the northern province of Aleppo, the Syrian government forces seemed to gain an upper hand in several neighborhoods according to the country's state-run media.

An army unit repelled an armed "terrorist" group trying to attack the Radio and TV center in al-Iza'a neighborhood, and another army unit confronted an armed group that attempted to attack Aleppo's Central Prison, killing and injuring many of the attackers, state-run SANA news agency said.--NNN-XINHUA