U.N. Envoy Wants a Transitional Government in Syria

4798 The international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, on a mission to Damascus seeking an end to the escalating civil conflict in Syria, said Thursday that a transitional government should be granted full executive powers until President Bashar al-Assad's term ends in 2014.
Mr. Brahimi's remarks to journalists, reported by news agencies, follow intensive talks this week with Mr. Assad and a range of opposition figures.

Over the past month, Mr. Brahimi, as special representative from the United Nations and Arab League, has consulted extensively with both the United States and Russia in hopes of fulfilling of an accord reached in Geneva this summer calling for dialogue between Syria's government and the opposition.

"The Syrian people seek genuine change," he said. He emphasized the importance of preserving state institutions and warned that military intervention would "lead to the destruction of the Syrian state" according to Russia's ITAR-TASS news service.

"There will be no victor in this war," he said.

As a Syrian government delegation met with Russia's top diplomats in Moscow, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Aleksandr K. Lukashevich, said there was no specific plan under discussion that would envisage a transitional government. Opposition figures have suggested that Mr. Brahimi presented Mr. Assad with offers either to cede some of his authority or to leave the country, but Mr. Lukashevich denied that. "There was and is no plan, it is not being discussed with Mr. Brahimi or with American colleagues," he said.

Mr. Brahimi will have his own meeting with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, in Moscow on Saturday, Mr. Lukashevich said. Asked about the topic of Thursday's meeting with Syria's deputy foreign minister, Faisal al-Meqdad, Mr. Lukashevich said Russia was making an effort to "intensify dialogue, not only with the government but also with the opposition groups."

"Naturally, we are talking with the government very often," he said.

Mr. Lukashevich said Russia was open to talks with Syria's national opposition coalition, which has been recognized by many Western governments as representing the Syrian people.

"We are not rejecting this dialogue," he said. "On the contrary, we are holding it very vigorously with all opposition groups who are also interested in getting better insight into the Russian approach."

Source: The New York Times | ELLEN BARRY and KAREEM FAHIM
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