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Brahimi Meets Syrian Officials To Discuss Truce Proposal

UN-Arab League peace envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi arrives at a hotel in Damascus on October 19.
International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi has met with Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem in Damascus to press for a brief ceasefire between President Bashar al-Assad's forces and rebels.

There were no immediate details on the results of the talks on October 20. Nonetheless, Syria has so far given only a guarded response to Brahimi's proposal, suggesting Damascus wants guarantees that rebels would reciprocate any move by Assad's forces.

Brahimi, the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy, is proposing to have the cease-fire during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, which begins October 26.

Brahimi has said a truce could pave the way to finding a political solution to Syria's 20-month conflict.

While in Syria, Brahimi will not only meet senior Syrian officials but also opposition figures.

On October 19, the United Nations and the Arab League issued a joint statement on behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby in support of the efforts by Brahimi.

The United States also gave its backing to the truce proposal on the same day.

Separately, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has called for all sides to observe the proposed three- or four-day ceasefire.

And Iran, one of Assad's major backers, has also supported the call but added that the main problem in Syria was foreign interference.

Brahimi's visit to Syria follows a regional tour that took him to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan to drum up support for his proposal.

Meanwhile, the violence in Syria shows no sign of abating, with opposition activists reporting heavy street clashes in Aleppo, Syria's biggest city, and intensified army bombing in towns along the strategic north-south highway.

According to activists , at least 30,000 people have been killed in Syria since the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.

Based on reporting by Reuters and dpa