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Frustrations Defeat Another Diplomat, As U.N. Syria Envoy Quits


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Audie Cornish. The conflict in Syria now in its 4th year, and a diplomatic solution seems as far off as ever. The international diplomat who's been trying to lead negotiations announced he's stepping down. It's a new sign of just how bad things are Syria. And as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, there doesn't seem to be a plan B.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Two seasoned diplomats have now tried their hand at diplomacy on Syria only to quit out of frustration. First, it was former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Today, it was Algerian diplomat and international troubleshooter, Lakhdar Brahimi.

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI: It's very sad that I leave this position and leave Syria behind in such a bad state.

KELEMEN: During his nearly two years on the job, Brahimi did manage to bring the warring sides to the negotiating table in Geneva, but the government wanted to talk about fighting terrorism, rather than talking to rebels about a transitional government. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says Brahimi faced almost impossible odds.

BAN KI-MOON: I regret that the parties, especially the government, have proven so reluctant to take advantage of that opportunity to end the country's profound misery.

KELEMEN: Ban calls this a failure of all of us, pointing out that the international community is, in his words, hopelessly divided. Those divisions are likely to come to the forefront again soon, as France pushes for a U.N. Security Council resolution referring Syria to the international criminal court. Syria's ally on the council, Russia, is likely to use its veto power to shield Damascus. Ban Ki-moon says those who block humanitarian aid and use starvation as a weapon must be held accountable. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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