World Bulletin/News Desk
The United Nations on Friday confirmed that veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi will replace former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan as the international mediator on Syria as the 17-month-old conflict slides deeper into civil war.
"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, the strong, clear and unified support of the international community, including the Security Council," said U.N. spokesman Eduardo del Buey.
The announcement confirmed what diplomats told Reuters on Thursday.
Brahimi, who hesitated for days to accept a job that France's U.N. envoy Gerard Araud called an "impossible mission," will have a new title, Joint Special Representative for Syria. Diplomats said the change was to distance himself from Annan.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby back his appointment, del Buey said. Diplomats said all Security Council members support Brahimi.
"Diplomacy to promote a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Syria remains a top priority for the United Nations," del Buey said.
"More fighting and militarization will only exacerbate the suffering and make more difficult the path to a peaceful resolution of the crisis which would lead to a political transition in accordance with the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people," he said.
U.N. officials told Reuters that Brahimi was expected to arrive in New York next week to meet with Ban and discuss plans for a fresh approach to the Syria conflict, which the United Nations says has killed over 18,000 people.
Del Buey said Ban thanked Annan, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who accepted the job of Joint Special Envoy for Syria six months ago, "for his selfless efforts and contributions to the march for peace in Syria."
Annan, who is stepping down at the end of this month, has said his Syria peace plan was hampered by a divided U.N. Security Council.
Annan was especially frustrated by the deadlock between the five permanent council members. Russia, backed by China, repeatedly vetoed Western- and Arab-backed resolutions that criticized the Syrian government and threatened it with sanctions, saying the United States, Europe and Gulf Arabs were seeking regime change.
The Western powers have in turn accused Russia, Syria's top arms supplier and staunch ally, of propping up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government. They have also accused Syria's ally Iran of providing military aid to Assad.
The United States, envoys say, saw little point in replacing Annan and has stepped up non-lethal support to the rebels.
Brahimi, 78, has served as a U.N. special envoy in Iraq after the U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, in Afghanistan, both before and after the end of Taliban rule, and in South Africa as it emerged from the apartheid era.
The announcement about Brahimi was made as U.N. observers in Syria prepare to withdraw due to the violence.
Last week Brahimi made clear he wanted an end to the international deadlock on Syria. Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu echoed that on Friday, saying Security Council consensus was needed for Brahimi to succeed.
"The U.N. Security Council and regional states must unite to ensure that a political transition can take place as soon as possible," Brahimi said last week. "World leaders cannot remain divided any longer, over and above their cries."
Separately, Russia canceled a meeting on Friday of the permanent council members and key Middle Eastern nations on Syria, the so-called Syria "Action Group," after most participants failed to confirm attendance, U.N. diplomats said.
"Almost no one confirmed attendance, not the Americans, Europeans, Arabs," one diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "There wasn't much interest in this meeting."
Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin announced plans to hold the meeting on Thursday of Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France, Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait and others to agree to "appeal to all the parties of the Syrian conflict that they end the violence as soon as possible."
The meeting in New York was postponed at the request of some of the group's members, a spokesman for the Russian U.N. mission said.
Other diplomats said the meeting of the Action Group was unlikely to take place at all.
Last month the group held a ministerial-level meeting in Geneva, at which participants reiterated their commitment to Annan's six-point peace plan aimed at securing a truce, providing humanitarian aid access and launching talks on a political transition in Syria. Iran and Saudi Arabia were not invited to attend.
The sudden reverses for the Ukrainian military appeared to confirm the arrival of Russian forces to support the separatists
At least 75,000 people have been directly affected in the town of Bogra alone and at least 50 educational institutions have been shut down due to the flood.
The photographs would be released in redacted form to conceal the identities of any individuals.
News of Abe's condolence message was expected to further strain ties with China over Japan's war record.
The fighters, who have vowed to "liberate" the area, captured the Quneitra post on the Syrian side from forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad after fierce clashes
Australia has set aside A$80 million to A$90 million for the search, already the most expensive ever undertaken.
Modi and host Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are also expected to strengthen defence ties, speeding up talks on the sale of an amphibious aircraft to the Indian navy.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad confirmed the new cabinet established after controversial June 3 elections.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Friday to discuss the negotiations with world powers
American officials appear to be accelerating efforts to build a wide coalition of countries that can sap ISIL's strength in both Iraq and Syria.
The red shirts formed after his ouster and staged numerous demonstrations against what they see as conservative forces that control business and power in Thailand.
Unions demand higher wages and tax breaks as inflation surges.
Tahir Qadri says Thursday will be 'revolution day' for Pakistan, hinting at nation-wide protests.
Boat accidents are rampant in Nigeria, largely because most operators use wooden boats with little safety measures.
"We will take further measures against Egypt and the United Arab Emirates over their violation of Libyan sovereignty," Omar Humaidan, spokesman for the outgoing General National Congress said.
Morsi faces charges of leaking Egyptian national security documents to Qatar when he was president, according to a source.