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UN Envoy to Meet With Assad Saturday

Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, left, meets with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, right, in Damascus, Syria, September 13, 2012.
The new U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is set to talk with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Saturday in Damascus as he continues his first official visit to the war-torn country.

A U.N. spokesman said Brahimi met Friday with Syrian officials, U.N. staff, Red Cross officers, and envoys from Russia and China. Along with a meeting with Assad, Brahimi is set to meet with a Syrian opposition group and a European Union delegation, the U.N. spokesman said.

Brahimi said Thursday the situation is getting worse and described efforts to ease the crisis as "nearly impossible."

Turkey warns Assad

Earlier, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized China and Russia during an international conference in the Ukrainian city of Yalta. Erdogan said both countries must continue to push Syria toward meaningful negotiations.

Erdogan also warned Assad's regime is coming to "its inevitable end."

UNSC impasse

The U.N. Security Council is deadlocked over Syria. China and Russia have vetoed efforts to impose tough new sanctions against the Assad government.

The United States does not want any military involvement in Syria, and there has been almost no progress in uniting the fragmented opposition to form a viable alternative to Assad.

Meanwhile, the United States Friday accused Syria of using the "brutal repression" of its people as an excuse for not cooperating with U.N.'s nuclear watchdog.

The U.S. envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Robert Wood, made the accusations during a meeting in Vienna. The IAEA has long been seeking access to Syria's Deir el-Zour site, saying Syria is legally bound to comply. Syria insists the site is a conventional military facility.

On Thursday, Hollywood film star Angelina Jolie met with Turkish officials in Ankara, a day after meeting with Syrian refugees in eastern Turkey. Jolie is a special envoy for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and has been traveling with a UNHCR delegation.

The 18 months of fighting between government forces and rebels has left about 20,000 people dead, mostly civilians. U.N. officials say the war has driven more than one million people from their homes.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.