BEIRUT (AP) — The new international envoy to Syria arrived in Damascus on Thursday for his first visit to the country since he took up the post in the midst of Syria’s devastating civil war.
Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.-Arab League envoy, was expected to meet Syrian President Bashar Assad on Friday. He also was to meet members of the Syrian opposition.
"We are confident that Mr. Brahimi understands the developments and the way to solve problems despite all the complications," Faisal Mekdad, deputy Syrian foreign minister, told reporters in Damascus. “We are optimistic and wish Brahimi luck.”
Brahimi replaced Kofi Annan, who left the job in frustration in August after his efforts failed to stem a conflict that started in March 2011. Activists estimate some 23,000 people have been killed in the bloodshed.
Also Thursday, U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague said Assad’s regime is “doomed” and should not be allowed to survive after the crimes it has committed against its people. He said a transition of power is the only way forward.
"That is the only way to avoid protracted civil war, or the collapse of the Syrian state, or an even greater flow of refugees and loss of life," Hague said at a joint news conference in Baghdad with his Iraqi counterpart, Hoshyar Zebari.
AP writer Sinan Salaheddin contributed to this report from Baghdad.