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Special Envoy to Meet With Assad, U.N. Say

posted Sep 14, 2012, 4:18 PM by Syrian Transition   [ updated Sep 14, 2012, 4:18 PM ]
14 Sept 2012 (New York Times) The international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is scheduled to meet with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Saturday, the United Nations said, as he tries to find a way to end the Syrian conflict, which has killed thousands.

Mr. Brahimi, who replaced Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general, at the start of September as the special envoy representing the United Nations and the Arab League, arrived in Damascus, the Syrian capital, on Thursday as government forces pounded the city’s eastern outskirts to flush out rebels trying to retain a foothold there.

“Tomorrow, Mr. Brahimi will hold more meetings, including with a group of Arab ambassadors and chargés d’affaires, a European Union delegation, an opposition group and civil society representatives, and Mr. Brahimi will meet the Syrian president,” Vannina Maestracci, a United Nations spokeswoman, told reporters on Friday.

Earlier on Friday, Mr. Brahimi, a veteran Algerian diplomat, met with the Russian ambassador to Syria and the Chinese chargé d’affaires, and on Thursday he spoke with the Iranian ambassador to Syria.

Russia, Iran and China are supporting Mr. Assad’s government, and Moscow and Beijing have three times blocked Western-backed attempts in the United Nations Security Council to criticize and threaten sanctions against Syria.

The Council is deadlocked as the death toll in the Syrian civil war climbs toward 30,000 and the refugee count soars to more than 200,000. Mr. Annan blamed the Council impasse for hampering his six-month bid for peace, leading to his decision to step down at the end of last month.

Syria’s United Nations envoy, Bashar Jaafari, said earlier this month that Syria was “open-minded and fully committed to the mission of Mr. Brahimi in his endeavors to put an end to violence and find a Syrian-led political solution to the crisis.”

Mr. Brahimi has described his mission of trying to broker a peace deal between an opposition with increasing military capacities and forces loyal to Mr. Assad as “nearly impossible.”