UK & World News
Syria Crisis Poses Global Threat, Warns UN Envoy
UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi says the escalating conflict in Syria poses a threat to the whole world.
Mr Brahimi, in his first visit to Damascus since taking over from former UN chief Kofi Annan, warned the crisis is deteriorating and could only be solved by the Syrian people.
Activists say more than 27,000 people have been killed in the 18-month-old uprising against President Bashar al Assad. The United Nations puts the death toll at 20,000.
After meeting Mr Brahimi, President Assad called for dialogue between Syrians.
Russia insisted it was not "clinging" to any particular leader in Syria, but warned it would block any new UN Security Council resolution aimed at pressuring its long-time ally Mr Assad.
"The crisis is dangerous and getting worse, and it is a threat to the Syrian people, the region and the world," said Mr Brahimi.
President Assad, quoted by state television, said dialogue between Syrians held the key to solving the conflict and called on foreign countries to stop supplying arms to his enemies.
"The real problem in Syria is that of combining politics with the work being done on the ground," he said. "The political work continues, in particular by calling for dialogue between Syrians based on the aspirations of all Syrians.
"The success of political action is dependent on putting pressure on the countries that finance and train the terrorists, and which bring weapons into Syria, until they stop doing so."
He said his government would "co-operate with all sincere efforts to solve the crisis, so long as the efforts are neutral and independent".
Mr Brahimi, 78, has also met Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and members of the opposition tolerated by the government since he arrived in Damascus on Thursday.
"There is need for all parties to unite their efforts to find a solution for the crisis, given Syria's strategic importance ... and the crisis' influence over the whole region," he said. "The solution can only come from the Syrian people."
He said he had "no plan" to tackle the crisis, but a strategy will be "set ... after listening to all internal, regional and international parties".
Mr Assad's forces and rebel fighters seeking his overthrow have ignored appeals to end the conflict, which continues to affect most of Syria's main cities, including Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Deir al Zor.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based group monitoring the violence, said 160 people were killed in Syria on Friday alone.
World powers are deadlocked in the UN Security Council along Cold War lines, with the US and UK supporting the call for Mr Assad to quit and Russia and China defending him against what they see as outside meddling.
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