UN envoy says Security Council must act on Syria - report

BEIRUT Thu Jan 31, 2013 7:13pm IST

The Joint Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi arrives at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva January 11, 2013. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The Joint Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi arrives at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva January 11, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Denis Balibouse

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - The United Nations peace envoy to Syria said the Security Council must act to end the country's civil war because Syrians could not stop the violence on their own, a newspaper reported on Thursday.

More than 60,000 people have died and 700,000 have fled the country in the 22-month-old conflict but the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council have been deadlocked on how to negotiate an end to the war.

Lakhdar Brahimi, appointed as mediator in August, said it had become clear the Syrian parties in the conflict were not going to resolve it on their own.

"Now we are speaking with the Security Council, and I told them honestly that the brothers in Syria are unable to talk and resolve their problems themselves," he told the Arabic-language daily newspaper daily al-Hayat.

"There is no other arena now to deal with this issue and seek the salvation of Syria except through the Security Council."

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's most powerful foreign backer, Russia, has vetoed three resolutions aimed at putting pressure on the Syrian leader to end the conflict.

The United States and most Western countries have largely backed the rebels, who are trying to end more than four decades of rule by Assad and his family.

World powers formally accepted a transitional plan for Syria in June, but Brahimi said the wording had left deliberate ambiguity over Assad's role during a transitional period.

Differences between Washington and Moscow later resurfaced and Brahimi said this "constructive ambiguity" had to end.

The newspaper said Brahimi has presented six points to the Security Council for a resolution, including adopting a "principle of dialogue" among Syrians, but did not take a ceasefire as a starting point.

"The fighter will not agree to stop fighting unless he knows where he is headed. People want to know where they are headed," he said, declining to go into details about what he presented.

On Tuesday, Brahimi warned the Security Council that Syria is "breaking up before everyone's eyes," diplomats told Reuters.

Diplomats have said Brahimi has grown extremely frustrated at the inability of the Security Council to unite behind him. His predecessor, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, voiced similar frustration when he resigned in August.

(Reporting by Alexander Dziadosz and Mahmoud Habboush; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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