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Brahimi to head to Damascus Thursday: Arab diplomat

New UN-Arab League envoy to Syria is set to land in Damascus Thursday, stating in a Wednesday meeting with league envoys he 'faced an extremely difficult task'

AFP , Wednesday 12 Sep 2012
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UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on Wednesday met Syrian opposition officials in Cairo ahead of a visit to Damascus for his first meeting with President Bashar al-Assad, UN officials and diplomats said.

Amid the spiralling conflict in Syria, Brahimi again highlighted to Arab League envoys that he knew he faced "an extremely difficult task," a UN spokeswoman said.

Brahimi met Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, briefed envoys to the Arab League and met Syrian opposition officials, UN spokeswoman Vannina Maestracci told reporters in New York.

She did not name which opposition figures Brahimi had met.

Sheikh Hamad heads an Arab League crisis committee on Syria while his country is considered a key outside player in the conflict. The Syrian government has accused Qatar and Saudi Arabia of arming opposition rebels.

Brahimi told envoys of the Cairo-based Arab League that "he was approaching the crisis in Syria with his eyes open and the full knowledge that it was an extremely difficult task."

Brahimi, who took over this month as international peace envoy from Kofi Annan, is to travel to Damascus on Thursday and meet Assad the next day, Iraq's envoy to the League, Qais al-Azzawi, said after the talks.

The envoy is also to meet Syrian opposition and civil society figures, his spokesman has said.

Azawi said some Arab countries had sought to put a deadline on Brahimi's mission but Iraq was among the states which rejected the idea.

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