Joint U.N.-Arab League special envoy for Syria Kofi Annan thanked India for help in setting up his mission.

Mr. Annan called External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna here on Saturday to express his appreciation of the efforts of India’s U.N. envoy Hardeep Singh Puri.

“Our Permanent Representative played a very useful role,” said Mr. Krishna. The External Affairs Minister conveyed his support for Mr. Annan’s mission. He said Mr. Annan was “reasonably hopeful of success.”

The conversation took place as the U.N. Security Council prepares to vote on a resolution on deploying an advance team of military observers in Syria to monitor the ceasefire. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Saturday saying the draft resolution was “practically agreed” but criticised the U.N. Secretariat for dragging its feet over finalising monitoring details with the Syrian government.

“U.N. officials suspended talks with the Syrian government at a moment when they began moving forward,” the Russian statement said.

“Norwegian Major-General Robert Mood, who headed the U.N. team, was recalled from Damascus and has not returned despite numerous appeals from the Syrian side.”

Moscow said the issue had gained urgency. It also called on the U.N. Secretary-General to send without delay to the Security Council concrete proposals for deploying a full-fledged observer mission following consultations with the Syrian government.

Russia clearly feels that the West is quietly sabotaging Mr. Annan’s mediation efforts, which Moscow has strongly backed.

The Russian Foreign Ministry voiced “concern” over “sceptical comments in some capitals” predicting the inevitable failure of Mr. Annan’s mission. Moscow said such remarks were pushing the opposition to keep on fighting.

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