UN Peace Envoy to Talk With Assad
by VOA News September 14, 2012
The new U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is set to talk with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad later Friday in Damascus as he continues his first official visit to the war-torn country. He also plans to hold talks with members of the Syrian opposition who are fighting to overthrow Assad.
Brahimi has called his job to help arrange a cease-fire and start talks on a transitional government "nearly impossible."
Brahimi met Friday with China's ambassador to Syria, Zhang Xun, who said Beijing was optimistic about Brahimi's mission and "hoping for success."
Turkey warns Assad
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.
Erdogan also warned that Assad's regime is coming to "its inevitable end."
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 Assad.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Thursday in Baghdad, though, that the Assad government is "doomed." He said it should not be allowed to survive because of what he calls the many crimes committed against the Syrian people.
Meanwhile, the United States Friday accused Syria of using the "brutal repression" of its people as an excuse for not cooperating with U.N.'s nuclear watchdog.
The U.S. envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency Robert Wood made the accusations during a meeting in Vienna. The IAEA has long been seeking access to Syria's Deir el-Zour site, saying Syria is legally bound to comply. Syria insists the site is a conventional military facility.
On Thursday, Hollywood film star Angelina Jolie met with Turkish officials in Ankara, a day after meeting with Syrian refugees in eastern Turkey. Jolie is a special envoy for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and has been traveling with a UNHCR delegation.
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.
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