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International envoy meets Syrian president in Damascus

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 7:18 PM EDT, Sat September 15, 2012
Lakhdar Brahimi replaces Kofi Annan as the U.N. envoy to Syria.
Lakhdar Brahimi replaces Kofi Annan as the U.N. envoy to Syria.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: An opposition group says at least 164 people were killed Saturday
  • The Syrian president says other nations are funding "terrorists"
  • Lakhdar Brahimi makes his first visit to Damascus as U.N. envoy
  • He met with the president and held "candid" talks with Syria's foreign minister

(CNN) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Saturday he is committed to resolving the crisis in his country as long as peace efforts are conducted in "neutrality and independence," state media reported.

He addressed the conflict during a meeting in Damascus with Lakhdar Brahimi, the new international envoy to Syria.

"The success of the political work is linked to pressing the countries which fund and train the terrorists, confiscate weapons into Syria to stop such acts," the president said, according to SANA.

Brahimi, who recently replaced Kofi Annan as the U.N. and Arab League point man for the conflict, highlighted the need for both sides to find a resolution and reiterated that the Syrian people are his first priority.

"I believe that the president is more aware than me of the scope and seriousness of this crisis," Brahimi said after his meeting with al-Assad.

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For now, Brahimi said he has no plan for bringing an end to the Syrian conflict.

"We, however, will set the plan that we will follow after listening to all internal, regional and international parties, hoping that such a plan will manage to open channels towards ending the crisis, and will be also accompanied by a clear strategy," he said.

Brahimi plans to open an office in Damascus, and al-Assad told him the government will enable him to carry out his duties.

The initial talks came on a day when at least 164 people were killed across Syria, according to the opposition Local Coordination Committees. It blamed Syrian security forces for the deaths.

Brahimi also held "candid and comprehensive" talks with Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, the United Nations said in a statement.

"Mr. Brahimi emphasized that, as he said before, he would spare no effort to help find a solution to the crisis," the statement read. "His only masters in this endeavor were the Syrian people, whose welfare and security were his prime concern."

Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister and U.N. envoy to Afghanistan, plans to meet opposition figures and other groups during his visit.

Brahimi was named to the post after Annan resigned in August, blasting the Syrian government for not implementing a cease-fire he negotiated in April and complaining about the "escalating military campaign" of the opposition.

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