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Syria ready to work with new UN envoy: deputy minister

Syria is ready to cooperate with newly-appointed UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, Deputy Foreign minister tells reporters in Damascus

AFP , Thursday 23 Aug 2012
UN Envoy
U.N. special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi gestures as he leaves the Elysee Palace after a meeting with French President Francois Hollande, Monday Aug. 20, 2012. (Photo: AP)
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Syria is ready to cooperate with new UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, the deputy foreign minister said on Thursday, adding he hoped the veteran Algerian diplomat would help pave the way for "national dialogue".

"We have informed the United Nations that we accept the appointment of Mr Brahimi," Faisal Muqdad told reporters in Damascus.

"We are looking forward to seeing... what ideas he is giving for potential solutions for the problem here," he added.

"As we cooperated with the Arab and UN missions, we will definitely cooperate with Mr Brahimi if he wishes so."

Brahimi was appointed to replace former UN chief Kofi Annan, after he announced earlier this month that he was stepping down as envoy following the failure of his six-point peace plan.

"We are not going to tell Brahimi what to do before he even arrives, he is an international expert," Muqdad said. "But I think it is critical to have a good understanding of the evolution of the crisis, far from international pressures."

Muqdad said he hoped Brahimi would help kick-start a process of national dialogue.

"There will be no winners in Syria, as the West is betting there will be," he said. "Syria will win, thanks to its people, its leader and its government, which will make the right choices in the midst of these difficult circumstances."

Muqdad said "foreign interference" was the leading cause of the 17-month-conflict, which the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday has now killed nearly 25,000 people since March last year.

The minister said he hoped Brahimi would play "an active role (in facing up to) parties who do not want a solution to the crisis and, in particular, those funding and arming terrorists, extremists and Salafists (hardline Sunni Islamists)."

Brahimi, 78, was the UN envoy in Afghanistan before and after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, and in Iraq after the US-led invasion of 2003.

The government of President Bashar al-Assad blames the conflict on "armed terrorist groups," which it says are being financed by the West, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.

"The (factors) that have fuelled this crisis are well-known -- armed groups, terrorist groups supported by regional circles, including the dangerous support by Turkey of terrorist gangs, providing these with sophisticated weapons," Muqdad said.

He accused Turkey of "giving these terrorists, including Al-Qaeda, free access to Turkey to come to Syria. I think this should stop."

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