Syria peace envoy Brahimi holds talks with Assad

UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said Monday he hoped all parties would reach agreement to end the "worrying" situation in Syria, after holding talks in Damascus with President Bashar al-Assad.

"I had the honour to meet the president and as usual we exchanged views on the many steps to be taken in the future," Brahimi told reporters at his hotel, a day after he arrived to launch a fresh bid to end the conflict roiling the country.

He said the Syrian crisis was "always worrying", with more than 44,000 people killed since the uprising against Assad's regime erupted in March last year, according to figures of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Brahimi expressed hope that "all parties are in favour of a solution that draws Syrian people together."

"Assad expressed his views on the situation and I told him about my meetings with leaders in the region and outside," said the veteran Algerian diplomat who took over his present task from former UN chief Kofi Annan.

Brahimi recently held talks with US and Russian officials, who hold opposite views on how to deal with the Syrian crisis.

Assad described his meeting with Brahimi as "friendly and constructive," according to state television.

"The government is committed to ensure the success of all efforts aimed at protecting the sovereignty and independence of the country," Assad said.

State news agency SANA said Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, his deputy Faisal Muqdad and presidential advisor Buthaina Shaaban all attended Assad's meetings with Brahimi.

Washington has repeatedly called for the ouster of Assad, while Moscow still remains one of the few staunch supporters of the Damascus regime.

Brahimi arrived in Syria on Sunday from neighbouring Lebanon. He had last visited the country on October 19.

During that trip he met Assad and other officials to clinch a temporary ceasefire for the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha. Despite pledges, the truce did not hold.

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