MOSCOW (AP) -- Kofi Annan, the U.N. and Arab League envoy to Syria, says there can be no deadline for ending the Syrian crisis but that it can't be allowed to drag on indefinitely.
Annan said Monday before leaving for Beijing that the main issue now is to start a dialogue, adding that it would be up to the Syrians themselves to decide if President Bashar Assad should step down.
He added that he had discussed a possible U.N. observer mission in Syria with Damascus.
Annan spoke after talks Sunday with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who promised Moscow's full support for his mission.
Russia and China have shielded Assad from U.N. sanctions over his crackdown on a yearlong uprising, in which more than 8,000 people have been killed.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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