NEW YORK — Algerian statesman Lakhdar Brahimi has been named as the United Nations/Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria. His mission will be to stop the fighting in Syria. He replaces outgoing envoy Kofi Annan, who resigned two weeks ago amid frustration with lack of progress toward peace in the war-torn country.
The announcement of the Brahimi appointment came in a brief statement read by Eduardo del Buey, deputy spokesperson for the secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon.
"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 expect a strong, clear and unified support of the international community, including the Security Council,” del Buey said.
The statement says more fighting and militarization will only exacerbate the suffering and make more difficult the path to a peaceful resolution of the crisis, which will lead to a political transition in accordance with the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.
Del Buey said Brahimi is expected to arrive soon in New York to meet with the secretary general. Only then, said del Buey, will there be any public discussion of policy or the logistics of Brahimi’s mission. The spokesperson said Brahimi preferred to be called joint special representative rather than envoy.
Reacting to the Brahimi appointment, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the United States looks forward to continuing to work closely with the U.N. to support an end to the bloodshed in Syria. Earnest added that the U.S. position and view about the solution to the Syrian problem has not changed, and that it is time for President Assad to step down and to allow a political transition to move forward.
The 78-year-old diplomat served as Algerian foreign minister and also special U.N. representative for Afghanistan and Iraq. He succeeds envoy Kofi Annan who resigned two weeks ago, citing frustration over his inability to bring an end to 18 months of fighting in Syria between the government and opposition rebels.
Meanwhile, Russia has indefinitely postponed Friday’s meeting of the Action Group on Syria, an initiative which the country’s ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, announced just the day before. Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reports the postponement came at the request of some group members. Other news reports indicate lack of interest in the Russian initiative. The Action Group for Syria includes the U.N. and Arab League, Security Council members and also the European Union, Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar.