Kofi Annan began negotiations in Syria on Monday in an effort to save his peace plan, while Russia, one of Syria’s allies, said the government should take most of the blame for the violence in Houla. The United Nations envoy will meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday, in a trip that was planned before the violent massacre took place on Friday. “I urge the government to take bold steps to signal that it is serious in its intention to resolve this crisis peacefully, and for everyone involved to help create the right context for a credible political process,” Annan said. Separately, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, claimed that he has prepared military options for the crisis in Syria, while Australia, Canada, and Italy all announced Tuesday that they would be expelling all Syrian diplomats immediately. A Russian foreign minister said that “both sides” had a hand in the deaths of innocent people, pointing out the rebel-controlled city was surrounded by government troops.