Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Envoy Paints Grim Picture of Syria ; U.N. Diplomat Says Crisis Is Worsening, and He Doesn't Yet Have a Plan

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Envoy Paints Grim Picture of Syria ; U.N. Diplomat Says Crisis Is Worsening, and He Doesn't Yet Have a Plan

Article excerpt

Lakhdar Brahimi said the civil war held consequences for the whole world, while acknowledging that he had not yet formulated a plan to address the escalating violence.

The new U.N. peace envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said over the weekend, after a meeting with President Bashar al-Assad, that the civil war held consequences for "the region, and the whole world," while acknowledging that he had not yet formulated a plan to address the escalating violence.

"The crisis is very serious," Mr. Brahimi said Saturday, adding that it was "becoming worse by the day."

That grim assessment came on the third day of Mr. Brahimi's visit to Syria, where he said he had met opposition activists, government officials and diplomats from Russia and China, countries that have offered support for Mr. Assad's embattled government.

Mr. Brahimi, a seasoned diplomat from Algeria, took the job of special envoy representing the United Nations and the Arab League after Kofi Annan, the former U.N. secretary general, resigned last month. In announcing his resignation, Mr. Annan insisted that there could be no solution unless Mr. Assad stepped down and blamed the intransigence of the Syrian government and its opponents for the continuing bloodshed.

In the weeks since Mr. Annan resigned, there has been no lessening of the violence, with the Syrian government relying more and more on air power to vanquish its enemies as rebel militias continue to search for weapons to counter the military's power.

At a Sunday Mass in Beirut, Pope Benedict XVI called for peace in Syria and the Middle East, The Associated Press reported. He said: "Why so much horror? Why so many dead? I appeal to you all to be peacemakers." The appeal came after he added his voice Friday to those warning of the dangers posed by weapons flowing into Syria, saying that the import of arms, by the government and the rebels, must stop. …

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