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Staffan de Mistura a new UN envoy to Syria

The UN has appointed its third envoy to war-torn Syria. Italian-Swede Staffan de Mistura is to take over the post, previously held by Lakhdar Brahimi, who resigned in May after two years of failed negotiation efforts.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon confirmed the appointment of de Mistura as UN envoy to Syria on Thursday. The 67-year-old veteran UN diplomat is tasked with mediating a peace agreement between the Syrian government  and anti-government fighters, who have been engaged in war for three years.

“In taking this decision I have consulted broadly, including with Syrian authorities,” Ban told reporters.

The Egyptian Arab League diplomat Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy is to serve as his deputy, Ban added.

Previous UN envoys to Syria during the conflict jointly represented the UN and Arab League. However, de Mistura will only act on behalf of the UN, Ban said.

Third diplomat

De Mistura will be the third envoy to attempt to bring the warring factions to the negotiating table to agree to the installment of a transitional government in Damascus.

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan first held the post in 2012, but resigned after six months over the UN Security Council’s failure to unite behind peace efforts.The next UN envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Ibrahimi , remained in the position until May. He, too, stepped down out of frustration over political deadlock.

Ban expressed confidence in de Mistura, who has worked primarily in conflict areas over three decades. From 2010-2011, he served as the UN envoy to Afghanistan.

He described de Mistura as “a tenacious and creative problem solver, and a tireless champion of peace, security and human dignity,” who had the UN’s “strong support” in efforts to end the Syrian civil war.

According to the UN, the Italian-Swedish citizen speaks Swedish, Italian, English, French, German and Arabic.

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