New U.N.-Arab League envoy heads to Syria

Sept. 14, 2012 at 10:53 AM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- The new U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria said he would "spare no effort" to help end the devastating civil war engulfing the Middle Eastern country.

The United Nations said Lakhdar Brahimi, who replaced Kofi Annan as the international community's envoy to the violence-torn country, conducted "candid and comprehensive" talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem in Damascus, CNN reported Friday.

"Mr. Brahimi emphasized that, as he said before, he would spare no effort to help find a solution to the crisis," the U.N. statement read. "His only masters in this endeavor were the Syrian people, whose welfare and security were his prime concern."

Brahimi, who once was an Algerian foreign minister and U.N. envoy to Afghanistan, planned to meet Syrian President Bashar Assad and opposition leaders and other groups Friday.

The United Nations said more than 18,000 people, mostly civilians, have died since fighting broke out March 2011.

After his arrival in Damascus on Thursday, Brahimi said the crisis was "deteriorating" and all parties agreed on the need "to stop the bloodshed and restore harmony," the BBC reported.

Syrian state media reported Moallem as saying any initiative should "focus on the Syrian people's interest."

Annan's mandate ended Aug. 31.

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