Sept. 13 - Lakhdar Brahimi, who took up the U.N.-Arab League mediator role after Kofi Annan quit in frustration, arrives in Damascus for talks with Bashar al Assad and Syrian opposition figures. Simon Hanna reports.
The new U.N.-Arab League mediator arrives in Damascus on Thursday, his first trip to Syria since taking up his post. Lakdhar Brahimi, a veteran Algerian diplomat, replaced U.N. Secretary Kofi Annan as international mediator on September 1. His predecessor quit in frustration over "finger-point and name calling" among U.N. members while the Syrian death toll spiralled up. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LAKHDAR BRAHIMI, UN-ARAB LEAGUE ENVOY: "There is a crisis, nobody can deny this. I think the crisis is increasing and I think that everybody agrees on the need to end the bloodshed and re-establishing agreement between the citizens." Brahimi will meet President Bashar al-Assad -- someone Annan said had to quit office. Expectations, including Brahimi's, are low as to what can be done to halt the near 18-months of violence that the Syrian opposition says has killed well over 20,000. Brahimi himself described a diplomatic solution here as "nearly impossible".