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Syria: UN-Arab League Envoy Holds Talks on Crisis

Syria: UN-Arab League Envoy Holds Talks on Crisis with President Bashar Al-Assad

New York, Dec 24 2012 11:00AM The Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, met with President Bashar al-Assad today for further talks on the situation in the war-torn Middle Eastern country.

"The President expressed his view regarding the current situation and I briefed him on the meetings I had in several capitals with officials from different countries inside and outside the region," Mr. Brahimi told reporters in the Syrian capital of Damascus following the meeting.

"I also told him about the steps that in my view need to be taken to help the Syrian people find a way out of this crisis," he added.

Mr. Brahimi has been engaged in a series of meetings in the region and elsewhere as part of his efforts to bring about a negotiated, political solution to end to the fighting in Syria, where at least 20,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since the uprising against President al-Assad began in March 2011. The conflict has spawned more than 500,000 refugees, while an estimated four million people inside the country need urgent humanitarian assistance.

In addition to meeting with regional leaders and government representatives, Mr. Brahimi has also met with officials such as Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, and the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, amongst others.

At the media encounter in Damascus, the Joint Special Representative also addressed claims of difficulty in arranging to meet with the Syrian President.

"I would like to seize this opportunity to comment on what was said a few days ago about the reluctance of President to receive me during my previous visits, and his refusal to see me this time, and that I asked the Russians to intervene with the President to convince him to meet with me, or otherwise I would resign -- I would like to say that not one word of this is true," Mr. Brahimi said.

The Joint Special Representative has previously stated that a peace process could be based on the so-called Geneva communiqué, which was issued after a meeting in the Swiss city of the Action Group for Syria -- made up of interested parties -- in late June and which lays out key steps in a process to end the violence in Syria.

"The situation is Syria is still worrying and we hope that all parties would adopt a solution that would meet the aspirations of the Syrian people," Mr. Brahimi added.

Amongst other items, the Geneva communiqué called for the establishment of a transitional governing body, with full executive powers and made up by members of the present Government and the opposition and other groups, as part of agreed principles and guidelines for a Syrian-led political transition.

The Action Group is made up of the Secretaries-General of the UN and the Arab League; the Foreign Ministers of the five permanent members of the Security Council -- China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States -- as well as the Turkish Foreign Minister; the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; and the Foreign Ministers of Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar, in their respective roles related to the Arab League.

Dec 24 2012 11:00AM

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