CAIRO- UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said "intense efforts" were under way to convene Syrian peace talks, as he met with Egyptian officials Saturday at the start of a regional tour.
CAIRO- UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said “intense efforts” were under way to convene Syrian peace talks, as he met with Egyptian officials Saturday at the start of a regional tour.
The international pointman for efforts to end Syria’s nearly three-year civil war aims to garner regional support for a peace conference that world powers hope to convene in Geneva next month.
In a brief statement to reporters after meeting Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, Brahimi said there were “intense efforts from various parties internationally” to hold the Geneva meeting.
“Our hope is that the conference would be held,” he said.
Fahmy reiterated Cairo’s support for a “political solution” to the Syrian crisis, insisting that it was essential to ensure that Syrians get a “free, democratic and respectful life” and that the “sovereignty and unity” of Syria is maintained.
On Sunday Brahimi is due to hold talks with Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi.
The renewed push for peace talks comes after a September deal under which Syria agreed to turn over its chemical arsenal for destruction to avert threatened US military strikes.
But the prospects of holding the Geneva conference are still unclear given the divided Syrian opposition, which is due to vote next week on whether to take part.
The opposition insists that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad cannot remain in power, while Assad’s government says his departure from office cannot be on the table.
After the Egypt leg of his tour, Brahimi is expected to fly to Syria itself and Iran, a steadfast ally of Assad’s regime.
The Syrian conflict has killed more than 115,000 people since it erupted in March 2011, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.