Former UN chief Kofi Annan, who has been named special envoy to strife-torn Syria for the United Nations and the Arab League, was in Cairo on Thursday for talks with officials ahead of trip to Damascus.
Annan, and his deputy former Palestinian foreign minister Nasser al-Qudwa, were to meet Egyptian foreign minister Mohammed Amr before holding talks with Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi.
The two envoys are then to travel to Syria on Friday. Their trip was initially scheduled for Saturday.
More than 7,500 people have been killed in an almost year-long crackdown by Syrian forces of protests against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, the United Nations says, and world pressure has been growing for an initiative to end the bloodshed.
Annan and Qudwa are acting under a UN General Assembly mandate as well as Arab League resolutions on the crisis in Syria.
A UN General Assembly resolution passed on February 16 demands that Syria "cease all violence and protect its population," free everyone detained in connection with the unrest, withdraw troops from urban areas and guarantee freedom of demonstration.
It also insists on "full and unhindered access and movement" for Arab League monitors and international news media "to determine the truth about the situation on the ground."
Damascus has welcomed the visit by Annan and Qudwa.
"Syria welcomes the visit by Kofi Annan, the special envoy of the UN secretary general," state television said, citing an official who spoke on condition of anonymity.© ANP/AFP