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New UN envoy makes maiden Syria visit

Damascus, Sep 11 (): The newly appointed special envoy of United Nations, Staffan de Mistura, began his first visit to Damascus, the capital city of Syria on Tuesday to make an effort to end the fatal three-year battle. The visit is his first visit after being chosen for the post and he visited the place while mortar outbreaks on a suburb and the capital killed about five people, reports from state news agency SANA said.

De Mistura is a former deputy Italian foreign minister and he was appointed as the special envoy of United Nations on July 10 by Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of UN. He was appointed to this post to fill a post left vacant by Lakhdar Brahimi, who resigned in May. Brahimi felt frustrated for failing to move forward a governmental solution to the long-running conflict of Syria.

Brahimi had been in the post for about two years, the position which he got after Kofi Annan, former UN secretary general, stepped down after a six-month stint in the role.

The government of Syria hailed his appointment, emphasizing he should establish “integrity and objectivity” in following his peace mission.

Over 180,000 have been killed since March 2011 in Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had reported.

De Mistura’s trip is expected to go for three days and he would have meetings with Syrian government officials and members of the tolerated domestic opposition.

Hassan Abdel Azim, head of the tolerated National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change, told he had planned to meet the UN envoy on Thursday at a hotel in Damascus. He said the assignment would ask De Mistura to organize “new discussions in Geneva” between opposition representatives and government to attain a “fast political solution”. Still, it is known whether there is wide political determination for a new round of peace talks after two rounds of negotiations ended in failure earlier this year.