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Kofi Annan quits as U.N. Syrian special envoy

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GENEVA (AP) - Kofi Annan said Thursday he will step down from his high-profile role as special envoy for Syria at the end of the month, delivering blistering criticism of world powers' failure to unite over the country's escalating violence.

At an impromptu press conference, Annan said he accepted the role when it seemed the international community led by the U.N. Security Council could help end the violence, enforce a cease-fire and bring about a political transition.

But the former U.N. secretary-general told reporters he cannot go on when the 15-nation council provides no backing for his role, particularly because of the standoff between its five veto-wielding members: Russia and China on one side, the United States, Britain and France on the other.

He was appointed special envoy in February of last year.

"When the Syrian people desperately need action, there continues to be finger pointing and name calling in the Security Council," he told reporters. "It is impossible for me or anyone to compel the Syrian government and also the opposition to take the steps to bring about the political process."

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