UN Envoy Meets With Assad

Posted September 15th, 2012 at 6:10 am (UTC-5)
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International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi says the deadly conflict in Syria is getting worse and poses a threat to the entire region and the world.

He made the comment Saturday in the Syrian capital, Damascus, after meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The meeting was Brahimi's first since taking over the duties as peace envoy two weeks ago.

Brahimi told reporters great efforts will be made to make progress and to help the Syrian people end the crisis, which erupted 18 months ago. After arriving in Syria Thursday, he described that mission as “nearly impossible.”

Brahimi replaced former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan two weeks ago as the international peace envoy to Syria.

On Friday, a U.N. spokesman said Brahimi met with various Syrian officials, U.N. staff, Red Cross officers and envoys from Russia and China. Brahimi is also set to meet with a Syrian opposition group and a European Union delegation.

Earlier, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized China and Russia during an international conference in the Ukrainian city of Yalta. He said both countries must continue to push Syria toward meaningful negotiations.

The U.N. Security Council is deadlocked over Syria. China and Russia have vetoed efforts to impose tough new sanctions against the Assad government.

The United States does not want any military involvement in Syria, and there has been almost no progress in uniting the fragmented opposition to form a viable alternative to Mr. Assad.

Eighteen months of fighting between government forces and rebels has killed about 20,000 people, mostly civilians. U.N. officials say the war has driven more than 1 million people from their homes.