lgerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi has not yet officially said whether he will become the international mediator on Syria. (Reuters)
By AL ARABIYA WITH AGENCIES
Conflicting reports over whether Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi has agreed to become the international mediator on Syria mounted on Friday, following earlier reports that he would take up the role.
An unnamed United Nations official on Friday said that Brahimi had refused to become the international envoy to pursue a peace plan to resolve an 18-month-long crisis in Syria, according to an exclusive report from Al Arabiya.
But on Thursday, U.N. sources quoted by Reuters news agency said that Annan had in fact agreed to replace joint U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
Annan is stepping down at the end of August after six months in the job because he said his Syria peace plan was hampered by a divided and deadlocked U.N. Security Council.
Diplomats told Reuters that Brahimi, who had been undecided for days about whether to accept the offer of the post from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, did not want to be seen as a mere replacement of Annan but wanted an reconfigured title and mandate.
“He is in,” a well-placed source told Reuters on condition of anonymity, adding that Ban “has accepted that he would change the title.” A Security Council diplomat confirmed the remarks.
U.N. officials said on Thursday it was not clear when an official announcement would be made.
If Brahimi agrees, it remains unclear what Brahimi’s formal link with the Arab League, if any, will be, diplomats said. They said Brahimi would be based in New York, unlike Annan, who is based in Geneva.
Earlier on Thursday, Al Arabiya learned that the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, would call Brahimi, who is currently vacationing on the Indonesian island of Bali, to ask for his final answer.
Al Arabiya broke the story on August 3 that the astute and experienced Algerian diplomat made his acceptance conditional on the Security Council passing a resolution backing his mission and implementing consequences on those who do not fulfill their commitment.
The Deputy Secretary-General is now faced with either gaining the acceptance of Brahimi or being forced to deal with his refusal and move forward.
More than 23,000 people have been killed in violence in Syria since the outbreak of a revolt in March last year, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday