UN mediator to brief UN council on Syria: official

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - The UN mediator for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, who oversaw peace talks in Geneva that ended in failure, will report to the UN Security Council next month, a UN spokesman said Thursday.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said Mr Brahimi would brief the council sometime during the week of March 10-16.

Western diplomats suggested a March 14 date for the Security Council meeting and said Brahimi might also address the General Assembly.

A second round of Geneva negotiations to find a political solution to the conflict ended in discord February 15.

Mr Brahimi broke off the talks, known as Geneva II, without setting a date for another round. "It is important that he (Brahimi) makes clear when he briefs the Council who is responsible for the failure and that he comes up with some ideas to move this forward," a Western diplomat said.

"We still think the Geneva II framework is extremely important, but maybe one can combine different approaches," the diplomat said.

The Geneva II talks broke down over basic disagreements about an agenda, with the Syrian government insisting on giving priority to terrorism while the opposition wanted to concentrate on putting in place a transitional government that would strip President Bashar al-Assad of all or part of his powers.

Mr Nesirky also confirmed that a joint mission by the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is considering a new calendar for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons, a process that is well behind schedule.

Ms Sigrid Kaag, the mission's coordinator, said her team is "studying the proposed timetable and its implications, and she expects to say more in the coming days," Mr Nesirky said.

Diplomats said Ms Kaag was supposed to brief the Security Council on her mission March 5.

The Security Council has given the Syrian regime until June 30 to destroy all its chemical weapons but Damascus has already missed many deadlines.

Syria recently notified the OPCW that it expects to complete the evacuation of 1,200 tonnes of chemical agents by the end of May, a delay of several months.