Veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi has concluded his maiden visit to Damascus in his capacity as the United Nations and Arab League envoy on Syria, with a call for an urgent resolution of country’s internal conflict and willingness to engage positively with the government of President Bashar al-Assad as well as the opposition.
Mr. Brahimi said on Saturday during the course of a media briefing after meeting Mr. Assad that the Syrian crisis was a threat to global peace. "This crisis is deteriorating and represents a danger to the Syrian people, to the region, and to the whole world," he observed.
The visiting envoy also signalled his willingness to work with Mr. Assad, as the President, in Mr. Brahimi’s view fully comprehended the gravity of the crisis. "We spoke and I think President Assad realises more than me the dimensions of the crisis and its gravity," Mr. Brahimi observed.
The markers for Mr. Brahimi’s talks with the President had already been set by Walid Muallem, the Syrian Foreign Minister. During an earlier meeting with the visiting envoy, Mr. Muallem had firmly rejected external interference, if diplomacy was to make any headway under Mr. Brahimi’s watch. Mr. Muallem assured the visiting diplomat of "Syria's full co-operation" and stressed that any initiative must be based on "the interests of the Syrian people and their freedom of choice without foreign intervention", Syria's official news agency, SANA reported.
The message in support of a domestically driven process was reinforced during Mr. Brahimi’s meeting with Mr. Assad. Lebanon’s Al Manar television station is reporting that President Assad told the visiting envoy that his government would "cooperate with all sincere efforts to solve the crisis, so long as the efforts are neutral and independent."
He added that the success would prove elusive unless countries that “train the terrorists”, and which bring weapons in Syria were pressurised against doing so.
Mr. Brahimi also discussed the on-going crisis with the Syrian opposition National Co-ordination Committee for Democratic Change, mainly comprising Arab nationalists, Kurds and socialists. Hassan Abdul-Azeem, the spokesman of the group expressed support for the Brahimi mission, but stressed that his organisation was looking for qualitative amplification of the six-point proposal of Kofi Annan, Mr. Brahimi’s predecessor.
The Kofi Annan plan had called for a ceasefire and a commencement of an intra-Syrian dialogue to resolve the crisis.
In Lebanon, visiting Pope Benedict XVI started called for a halt to arms supplies into Syria to reign in the spiraling violence. "Arms imports must stop once and for all, because without arms imports, war cannot continue," he said.