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UN denies new Syria peace plan drafted

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The United Nations on Thursday denied reports that new peace plan is being drawn up for Syria involving the creation of a senate to oversee a power transition.

Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported that it had obtained a copy of a plan aimed at ending Syria's 23-month conflict, saying that it had been drafted "under UN supervision."

Members of Syria-based opposition groups tolerated by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad helped draft the plan, the paper added.

But the United Nations said in a statement that "neither the secretary-general nor the joint special representative (international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi) have any knowledge of the so-called plan."

"However, Mr Brahimi and his team continue to work with all stakeholders toward a peaceful settlement of the Syrian conflict."

The world body also noted that Ban and Brahimi support opposition chief Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib's offer to hold peace talks with regime officials without blood on their hands.

The draft cited by the London-based newspaper does not elaborate on Assad's fate, though the West and opposition groups calling for his fall have said any talks should lead to his departure.

The plan foresees the creation of a 140-member senate body tasked with leading the dialogue process between the regime and the opposition during a transitional phase, according to Asharq al-Awsat.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said the toll from the conflict may have reached 90,000, citing figures provided by his Saudi counterpart Prince Saud al-Faisal -- a sharp increase from UN estimates of nearly 70,000 people killed.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130214/un-denies-new-syria-peace-plan-drafted