Syria mediator wants to quit: UN diplomats
Updated: 2013-05-04 10:23
A boy stands near rubble and damaged buildings in Raqqa province, Syria, on May 2, 2013. The two-year conflict has displaced about 5 million people, according to the United Nations. [Photo/Agencies]
Brahimi frustrated with deadlock over how to act on 2-year conflict
United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon and ambassadors from the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China discussed on Thursday "possible diplomatic moves to end" the Syria conflict after UN diplomats said mediator Lakhdar Brahimi is determined to quit.
Diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said Brahimi wants to resign from the joint UN-Arab League role because he is frustrated with international deadlock over how to end Syria's two-year civil war, which has killed 70,000.
"Brahimi is resigning, but I can't tell you which date," a senior Security Council diplomat said on Thursday on condition of anonymity. He said Ban is now being urged to become more personally involved in solving the crisis. Some diplomats said Brahimi could step down by the end of May.
UN diplomats have also floated the idea of a "Geneva 2" summit to revisit an agreement by world powers in Geneva in June last year that said a transitional government should be formed in Syria "on the basis of mutual consent".
The envoys from the permanent five veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council declined to comment after meeting the secretary-general. A dispute between Russia and the United States over Syria has left the council paralyzed.
Brahimi, appointed last year after former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan resigned as Syria mediator, also wants to distance himself from the Arab League, envoys said, because of its decision to recognize Syria's opposition.
Brahimi felt that move undermined his neutrality. He could quit the joint mediator role and possibly be reappointed as a UN adviser to Ban and Syria, diplomats said.
Ban's spokesman, Martin Nesirky, said of Ban's meeting with the council envoys: "(They) discussed possible diplomatic moves to end the crisis. He briefed them on the latest developments relating to the chemical weapons investigation mission."
Syria has blocked unfettered access by the UN mission, which was created by Ban nearly six weeks ago and has an advance team in Cyprus ready to deploy to Syria. Diplomats say it is unlikely the mission will gain access any time soon.
The Syrian government and the opposition blame each other for alleged chemical weapons attacks in Aleppo in March and Homs in December. Ban wants the inquiry to look into both incidents, but Syria only wants the United Nations to investigate the Aleppo attack.
US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday there is evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, but that it is not yet known how the weapons were used, when they were used or who used them.
Obama has warned Syria's government that the use of chemical weapons could trigger unspecified consequences. He told a news conference on Tuesday that he had asked the US military to prepare options on Syria, but declined to give further details.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Thursday the United States is rethinking its opposition to arming the Syrian rebels, even as Obama himself signaled that no decision to deepen US involvement in the conflict is imminent.
Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad retook a central district in the city of Homs on Thursday, driving a wedge between two isolated pockets of rebel resistance in Syria's third-largest city, fighters and activists said.
Nesirky said Ban and the five permanent Security Council envoys also discussed on Thursday "the ever-worsening humanitarian situation inside Syria and the neighboring countries, and international efforts to alleviate it".
Five million people have fled their homes, including 1.4 million refugees in nearby countries, the United Nations said.