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Syria peace mediator Brahimi to stay through 2013 -UN

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 21 Feb 2013 22:18 GMT
Author: Reuters
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UNITED NATIONS, Feb 21 (Reuters) - U.N.-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi will continue his bid to broker peace in war-torn Syria until at least the end of the year, the United Nations said on Thursday.

The veteran Algerian diplomat took up the role in September when he replaced former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Annan blamed a Security Council impasse for hampering his six-month bid to broker peace and leading to his decision to step down.

The Security Council has been deadlocked since 2011 over Russia and China's refusal to consider sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government. They have vetoed three resolutions condemning Assad's attempts to crush what began two years ago as peaceful protests inspired by other Arab Spring uprisings.

The United Nations says almost 70,000 people have been killed during the revolt against Assad, which turned violent after Assad's forces tried to crush the demonstrations.

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said on Thursday that Brahimi's contract had been extended until the end of the year, along with the contracts of his deputy, Nasser al-Kidwa, and the head of his Damascus office, Mokhtar Lamani.

After briefing the Security Council late last month, Brahimi played down rumors that he was planning to resign from the mediator job in frustration, though he added that it was not a job he had wanted.

"I'm not a quitter," he told reporters. "The United Nations has no choice but to remain engaged with this problem, whether I'm there or not. The moment I feel that I am totally useless I will not stay one minute more." (Reporting by Michelle Nichols)

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