U.N. envoy Kofi Annan, pictured with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, says Iran has a part to play in Syria crisis.
Itar-Tass: The Syrian National Council will give proposals to Russia’s foreign minister
Kofi Annan says Iran “can play a positive role” in stopping the violence in Syria
At least 68 people were killed across Syria on Tuesday, an opposition group says
Report: Russia supports extending the U.N. observer mission in Syria for three months
(CNN) — The head of the Syrian National Council is reportedly visiting Wednesday with Russia’s foreign minister — a notable meeting between a major Syrian opposition group and a government some opposition members have accused of backing the Syrian regime.
SNC leader Abdul Basit Sieda said he would lay out a series of proposals on how to resolve the Syrian crisis during his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s official Itar-Tass news agency said Wednesday.
Shortly after Sieda came to the helm of the SNC last month, he called on officials in Syria, Russia, and China “to think carefully about the situation now because the whole stability of region, if not the whole stability of the world, is at stake here. We would like to call upon them to support the Syrian people.”
Russia and China have vetoed U.N. Security Council draft resolutions that would have formally condemned the Syrian regime. Many other nations said such resolutions could have pushed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stop a bloody crackdown on dissidents seeking his ouster.
Analysts say regime forces and rebel fighters are now locked in a deadly stalemate, with neither side willing to drop its weapons.
Meanwhile, international envoy Kofi Annan will brief the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday after a flurry of diplomatic efforts to end 16 months of carnage.
The briefing comes a week before the council must decide what to do with 300 U.N. observers whose work in Syria has been suspended due to the relentless bloodshed in the country.
Russia has tabled a draft resolution suggesting an extension of the observer mission for another three months, Itar-Tass reported Wednesday.
Annan, the U.N.-Arab League special envoy to Syria, will brief the council after visiting Iran and Iraq on Tuesday. Annan said he sees Iran as a factor in diplomatic efforts to forge peace in Syria, a stance not shared by the United States.
Annan was visiting leaders in the region to find ways to implement his six-point peace plan for Syria, which includes a cessation of violence. Critics say the plan has failed, with dozens of Syrians reportedly killed every day.
But Annan said he believes Iran can play a key role in helping end the violence in Syria. Tehran is a friend and ally of the al-Assad regime,
“I think Iran can play a positive role,” Annan said during a news conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.
But the United States and other nations exploring peace moves in Syria have opposed Iranian participation in the diplomacy.
U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell cited “Iran’s destructive behavior in Syria,” a reference to its support for the government’s fierce offensive against dissidents.
“If the Iranian regime wants to stop giving direct material support to the Syrian killing machine, then — and play a constructive role — we would welcome that,” Ventrell told reporters Monday. “We’re not at that point yet.”
Also on Tuesday, Annan traveled to Baghdad to discuss Syria with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. As the conflict persists, Syrians are fleeing to neighboring countries such as Iraq.
Annan’s visits to Iran and Iraq came after he met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Monday. Annan said al-Assad “made a suggestion of building an approach from the ground up in some of the districts where we have extreme violence — to try and contain the violence in those districts and, step by step, build up and end the violence across the country.”
Annan said the two discussed efforts to end violence, but didn’t want to mention details until he talked with opposition leaders.
World powers have deplored al-Assad’s government for its assaults against civilians.
But the diplomatic wranglings, such as Annan’s recent Action Group meeting in Geneva and the U.S.- and Arab-backed Friends of Syria initiative, have failed to stop the killings of thousands since March 2011.
Another 68 people were killed Tuesday, the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said.
The United Nations has said more than 10,000 people have been killed in the Syrian crisis; opposition groups say thousands more have been killed.
Meanwhile, two Russian military transport ships are en route Syrian port of Tartous, a U.S. official said.
Russia has said it’s part of a training exercise.
But the ships have been closely watched by U.S. intelligence for the last several weeks while docked in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol. The Russians have said any weapons and personnel on board the ship are for reinforcement of the Tartous facility.