UN-Arab League representative to meet Syrian president

United Nations, Oct 29 (IANS/ITAR -TASS) The UN-Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is expected to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during his visit to the country, UN secretary-general's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said.

"He (Brahimi) hopes to meet with President Assad, but at the moment we cannot say exactly when it will happen," said Farhan Haq told ITAR-TASS Monday.

According to him, the UN and Arab League emissary also intended to meet with Syrian officials and representatives of the internal opposition.

According to the UN secretary-general's spokesperson, Brahimi "will stay in Damascus a few days".

According to previous reports, the envoy arrived in Damascus due to "the need for additional contacts with the Syrian side" on issues related to the preparation of Geneva II, the second peace conference on Syria, which UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hopes to convene in November.

Brahimi in recent days has been touring the Middle East in support of the efforts to convene the Geneva II conference. The Algerian diplomat has visited Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Oman and Turkey.

He had a telephone conversation Oct 26 with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

According to the Russian foreign ministry, the parties agreed to continue the joint work to convene a peace conference on Syria, including during consultations in Geneva in the Russia-US-UN format, scheduled for Nov 5.

Russia is expected to be represented by its two Deputy Foreign Ministers, Mikhail Bogdanov and Gennady Gatilov. The American delegation will be led by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman.

The main obstacle to setting the date for the Geneva 2 conference is the Syrian opposition's unwillingness to take part in negotiations with Damascus.

Over the weekend, 22 extremist groups, which are part of or cooperate with the Free Syrian Army, announced that they would boycott the peace conference.




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