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Brahimi to stay on as Syria envoy after Russia-US bid

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Lakhdar Brahimi has withdrawn a threat to resign as UN-Arab League envoy on the Syria conflict after Russia and the United States launched a joint political initiative, officials said Thursday.

UN leader Ban Ki-moon "has asked the joint special envoy to stay on and he has accepted to stay on," UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson told reporters, praising the US-Russia effort to organize a conference on the two-year-old conflict.

Brahimi had told the UN leadership he planned to tender his resignation this month out of growing frustration at the major powers' failure to back a negotiated end the conflict, diplomats said.

But the announcement by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday that they would seek to convene an international conference on Syria has added new impetus to political efforts to halt the war.

Brahimi on Wednesday welcomed the conference bid as "the first hopeful news concerning that unhappy country in a very long time." But he cautioned that it was "only a first step."

UN diplomats have said that as the conflict intensifies, the success of the Russia-US initiative will depend on how quickly a conference can be organized.

Ban spoke by telephone on Thursday with Kerry and Lavrov, said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky. Ban "commended both men for their leadership and initiative," he added.

The UN leader has also spoken several times with Brahimi and will "intensify" efforts to get a conference organized, Nesirky said.

Eliasson told a press conference the Russia-US accord was important "because we see very much the risk that there is a belief that there could be a military victory.

"First of all we doubt whether a military victory is possible, particularly in the near future and secondly the risks of an explosion of revenge could lead to an even worse situation," he added.

"We now of course have challenges ahead of us, lots of work that has to be done. The secretary general takes it very seriously and has asked the joint special envoy to stay on and he has accepted to stay on."

Eliasson said "we now will have to mobilize everybody to go for the political road rather than the military road."

tw/jm

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130511/brahimi-stay-syria-envoy-after-russia-us-bid