Kofi Annan
The United Nations in agreement with the Arab League have appointed the former U.N secretary general Kofi Annan as special envoy on the Syrian crisis. REUTERS

Russia and China have both endorsed the selection of former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan as a special peace envoy to Syria, following his joint appointment by the U.N. and Arab League.

The RIA Novosti news agency reported that Alexander Lukashevich, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said Moscow is “ready for close cooperation” with Annan in his attempts to arrive at a peaceful resolution to the deepening crisis in Syria.

“We expect that the activity of this authoritative politician [Annan] will contribute to solving the pressing political and humanitarian issues in Syria on the basis of work with all parties in the interest of peace through inclusive political dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition,” Lukashevich said in a statement.

A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, Hong Lei, stated: China hopes that this move [choosing Annan] will help push forward political dialogue and find a peaceful and proper resolution to the Syria issue.

The development is somewhat significant since Russia and China have repeatedly thwarted previous efforts by the UN and other entities to pressure Assad to resign or at least ease his brutal crackdown on Syrian dissidents.

Russia and China were almost universally lambasted for vetoing a resolution by the UN Security Council to officially condemn Assad.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El-Araby said in a joint statement that Annan will work as their dual-representative on the Syrian crisis and that he will have an Arab deputy assisting him.

“The special envoy will provide good offices aimed at bringing an end to all violence and human rights violations, and promoting a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis,” the joint statement said.

Ban-El-Araby stated that Annan will “consult broadly and engage” with parties both within and outside of Syria to find “a peaceful Syrian-led and inclusive political solution that meets the democratic aspirations of its people.”

Annan, of Ghanaian origin, served U.N. secretary-general from 1997 through 2006.

I am honored to accept the role of Joint Special Envoy on the Syrian crisis, and am humbled by the trust and confidence that has been placed in me, Annan said in a statement issued in Geneva.

I look forward to having the full cooperation of all relevant parties and stakeholders in support of this united and determined effort by the United Nations and the Arab League to help bring an end to the violence and human rights abuses, and promote a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis.”

Ban also asked Valerie Amos, undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, to journey to Syria to evaluate the humanitarian situation there.

Meanwhile, the bloodshed continues unabated inside Syria and Assad forces continue to bomb the rebel stronghold of Homs.

The UN human rights commissioner alleged that Assad and his top government officials have likely committed crimes against humanity during the brutal crackdown.

At least 6,000 people have died in Syria since the revolt erupted last March.