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Syria mediator Brahimi says not resigning post but considers it daily

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N.-Arab League mediator in the Syria conflict, Lakhdar Brahimi, dismissed rumours on Friday he was resigning due to frustration with the Arab League and the Security Council's inaction, but said he considers departing on a daily basis.

"I haven't resigned," Brahimi told reporters. "Every day I wake up and think I should resign. One day perhaps I will resign."

He also dismissed reports that he agreed to remain in the post for three more months.

U.N. diplomats said on Tuesday that Brahimi hoped to revamp his role as peace mediator in the two-year-old Syrian conflict as a United Nations envoy without any official link to the Arab League.

But U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made clear the following day that he wanted Brahimi to continue working as a joint representative of both the Arab League and United Nations. Brahimi meets with Ban and Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby in New York on Monday.

The reason Brahimi has wanted to distance himself from the Arab League, envoys said, is its decision last month to recognize Syria's opposition, a move he feels has undermined his role as a neutral joint U.N.-Arab League mediator.

There have been rumours circulating for months that Brahimi was ready to resign due to his frustration at the failure of the United States and Russia to overcome their differences on Syria. That dispute has left the U.N. Security Council deadlocked and incapable of taking meaningful action on Syria because Washington and Moscow are veto-wielding permanent members.

Brahimi's predecessor, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, voiced similar frustration when he resigned in August. Like Brahimi, he complained that the Security Council could not unite behind his calls for an end to the violence and a peaceful political transition.

Brahimi did not hide his frustration on Friday.

"With the Syrians I got nowhere," he said. "With the Security Council, with the Americans and the Russians, we made some progress but it was far too little. I am very happy that the Americans and the Russians are talking to one another."

"I'm very happy from the discussions we have just heard (that) the Security Council is very, very much now aware that this is an extremely serious problem," Brahimi added.

BRUTAL ASSESSMENT

The United Nations says over 70,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict, in which rebels are fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Daily death tolls of around 200 are not uncommon, monitoring groups say. More than a million refugees have fled the country and the Syrian Red Crescent says nearly 4 million have been displaced internally.

Brahimi, a veteran Algerian diplomat, met with the Security Council behind closed doors on Friday. Diplomats present said he offered another bleak assessment of the Syrian situation.

"I apologize to the Syrian people for having done little for them in the past eight months," a diplomat quoted Brahimi as telling the 15-nation council. "I apologize to the members of the council for having brought before them only bad news."

Brahimi's remarks come a day after the United Nations said Syrian families have been burned in their homes, people bombed waiting for bread, children tortured, raped and murdered and cities reduced to rubble in Syria's war that has sparked a humanitarian catastrophe.

That brutal assessment by top U.N. humanitarian officials motivated the council to reach a rare agreement on a non-binding statement demanding an end to the escalating violence and condemning human rights abuses by all sides.

"The escalating violence is completely unacceptable and must end immediately," the council said, adding that it "urged all parties to ensure safe and unimpeded access for aid organizations to those in need in all areas of Syria."

The council also "condemned the widespread violations of human rights by the Syrian authorities, as well as any human rights abuses by armed groups" and said there should be "no impunity for serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law."

(Additional reporting By Michelle Nichols; Editing by Philip Barbara)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130419/syria-mediator-brahimi-says-not-resigning-post-considers-it-dai