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Major Powers Welcome New Syria Envoy


Lakhdar Brahimi will become the new international mediator on Syria.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States is ready to support Lakhdar Brahimi, confirmed on August 17 by the United Nations as the new international mediator on Syria.

Clinton said the United States would support Brahimi "secure a lasting peace that upholds the legitimate aspirations for a representative government of the people of Syria."

Clinton's message to the Syrian people was "you are not alone," and she said the international community was committed to a Syrian-led political transition and to ensuring those who commit atrocities are held accountable.

China and Russia also welcomed Brahimi's appointment to replace former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who quit two weeks ago after the failure of a four-month-old truce in Syria.

In a statement on August 18, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Beijing was ready to "cooperate positively" with Brahimi in using "political mediation" to resolve the ongoing confrontation between the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and opposition rebels.

In Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it was ready for "close interaction" with Brahimi and urged him to build on the existing road map of a Syrian settlement proposed by his predecessor.

UN deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey made the announcement of Brahimi's appointment at UN headquarters in New York.

"The violence and the suffering in Syria must come to an end. The secretary-general appreciates Mr. Brahimi's willingness to bring his considerable talents and experience to this crucial task for which he will need, and rightly expects, a strong, clear and unified support of the international community, including the Security Council, " said del Buey

The 78-year-old Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister, has worked in several high-profile positions at the UN, gaining a reputation as a tough, independent negotiator as envoy to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Haiti. Brahimi also helped negotiate an end to Lebanon's civil war.

Brahimi's appointment comes after Annan announced his resignation earlier this month after failing to achieve a temporary cease-fire during his six-month tenure. The UN has said at least 18,000 people have been killed since March 2011.

On August 16, the UN Security Council announced it would end the UN military observer mission in Syria, but said a civilian liaison office would remain in Damascus.

Moscow Calls Off Meeting

Meanwhile, Russia called off a meeting planned of an international action group on the Syria conflict after western countries revealed they would not attend.

Russia said the meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on August 17 had been postponed. Russian officials did not say whether a new date for the meeting would be set.

Russia expected the meeting to adopt a statement, which would set a ceasefire deadline for the Syrian government and opposition to halt the violence.

The move comes after U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said August 16 she did not see the point of the meeting.

Russia, as well as China, has vetoed three UN Security Council resolutions on Syria which condemned President Assad's actions and threatened sanctions.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP
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