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Envoy seeks unified voice on Syria

Monday, August 20, 2012    

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PARIS (AP) — The new UN special envoy to Syria admitted yesterday that he faces a difficult job of trying to broker peace in Syria, and said his first task is overcoming divisions within the Security Council that stymied the efforts of his predecessor.

Lakhdar Brahimi, who was named Friday to replace former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as peace envoy to Syria, said getting the Security Council to speak “with a unified voice” is critical to his mission’s success, but that he has no concrete ideas on how to achieve that. The former Algerian foreign minister and longtime UN diplomat spoke during an interview with The Associated Press at his home in Paris yesterday.

Russia and China have used their veto power at the Security Council to block strong Western- and Arab-backed action against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Brahimi, who served as a UN envoy in Afghanistan and Iraq and helped negotiate the end of Lebanon’s civil war as an Arab League envoy, said Annan’s mission failed “because the international community was not as supportive as he needed them to be”.

“The problem is not what I can do differently, it is how others are going to behave differently,” Brahimi said. But asked if he had specific ideas on how to achieve that consensus, Brahimi simply responded “No”.

“If they spoke in one voice and were clearly supportive of what I will be doing on their behalf, that is what I need,” Brahimi said in response to what he wants from the Security Council.

“Without a unified voice from the Security Council, I think it will be difficult,” Brahimi said.

Annan announced earlier this month that he will resign on August 31 as joint UNArab League envoy to Syria, after failing to broker a ceasefire as the country descended into civil war. Activists say about 20,000 people have been killed since March 2011.

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