Brahimi pushes for Syria peace talks on Cairo visit

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U.N.– Arab League Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi stressed that “intense efforts” are being made to push for a peace conference in Geneva next month to resolve the Syrian crisis.

Brahimi made the statement after a meeting with Egyptian officials on Saturday, ahead of a regional tour to gather support for the Geneva II peace conference planned for November.

The U.N. Syria envoy said there were “intense efforts from various parties internationally” to hold the Geneva meeting, following after a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy.

“Our hope is that the conference would be held,” he said, in statements carried by Agence France-Presse.

In the same vein, the Egyptian foreign minister reiterated Cairo’s support for a “political solution” to the Syrian crisis.

Fahmy insisted that it was vital to ensure that Syrians get a “free, democratic and respectful life” and that the “sovereignty and unity” of Syria be maintained.

In efforts to garner more support, Brahimi is due to hold talks with Arab League Chief Nabil al-Arabi on Sunday.

The renewed push for peace talks comes after a September deal in which Syria agreed to turn over its chemical weapons arsenal for destruction to avert threatened U.S. military strikes.

But the prospects of holding the Geneva conference are still unclear given the divided Syrian opposition, which is due to vote next week on whether to take part.

The opposition insists that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad cannot remain in power, while Assad’s government says his departure from office cannot be put on the negotiating table.

After the Egypt leg of his tour, Brahimi is expected to fly to Syria and Iran, a steadfast ally of Assad’s regime.

The Syrian conflict has killed more than 115,000 people since it erupted in March 2011, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

(with AFP)

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