AGENCIES- UN/Arab League envoy for Syria Kofi Annan is expected to arrive for a two-day visit in Moscow on Monday to hold talks with Russia on the settlement of the domestic conflict in Syria.
Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon head for Russia and China on Monday to press the two UN Security Council doubters to back tougher action against President Bashar al-Assad to halt the slaughter in Syria.
The visits by the UN-Arab League envoy and the UN leader come at a crucial new stage in the 16-month old conflict. The Security Council has until Friday to renew the UN mission in Syria but is divided over Western calls to add sanctions.
"So divided that maybe Annan and Ban now have the most influence over Russia and China to get anything done," said one senior UN council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Annan will meet Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday evening and President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
Russia has led the resistance and Annan is to meet President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during two days of talks in Moscow, said his spokesman Ahmad Fawzi.
Last Sunday the Kremlin press service reported that during the July 17 Putin-Annan meeting in Moscow "Russia plans to once again confirm its support for Annan's peace plan of the political and diplomatic settlement of the crisis in Syria."
"The Russian side proceeds from the belief that the plan is the only viable platform for resolving Syrian domestic problems," the report says.
It will be Annan's second visit since his appointment to the post of special envoy. He visited Moscow for the first time last March.
Russia, which has proposed a resolution which just renews the UN mission, has said the threat is "unacceptable" and would not be allowed. Russia and China have twice used their powers as permanent members of the Security Council to veto resolutions which just spoke of possible measures.
Moscow has also said that the Security Council cannot force President al-Assad to stand down as part of any solution and that more pressure must be put on the opposition.
Diplomats have warned that the council battle over Syria could see the UN mission closed down if there is no agreed resolution.
The Western nations have said there is little point in keeping the nearly 300 unarmed observers in Syria if there is no ceasefire or a political process to monitor.
Meanwhile, UN observers who returned from the village of al-Treimseh on Sunday said that, based on what they saw and on witness accounts, the attack there was targeted at army defectors and activists.