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Norwegian to take over as UN Syria envoy

October 31, 2018

The United Nations head has chosen diplomat Geir Pedersen to replace Staffan de Mistura as special representative in Syria. The envoy faces the Herculean task of bringing peace to the country torn by civil war.

Syrien Ruinen Homs
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres chose Geir Pedersen as his desired next special envoy to Syria. The Norwegian diplomat will be tasked with seeking to peacefully resolve Syria's deadly war, now in its seventh year.

"I am pleased to inform you of my intention to announce the appointment of Mr. Geir O Pedersen as my Special Envoy for Syria. In taking this decision, I have consulted broadly, including with the government of the Syrian Arab Republic," Guterres said in a letter sent to media.

"Mr. Pedersen will support the Syrian parties by facilitating an inclusive and credible political solution that meets the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people," the UN head added. He called on the international community and the Syrian government to fully back Pedersen.

Pederson is currently Norway's ambassador to China and previously served as Norway's permanent representative to the UN in New York.

Geir Pedersen
Pedersen is the UN's fourth special envoy to SyriaImage: Getty Images/AFP/J. Barrak

He will replace the UN's current Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, who will be leaving his post at the end of November. De Mistura took up the role in July 2014. De Mistura was preceded in the role by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Algeria's Lakhdar Brahimi, both of whom quit in frustration over the lack of progress in securing peace in Syria.

Guterres thanked de Mistura in his letter "for his more than four years of concerted efforts and contributions to search for peace in Syria."

The UN, and national governments, is looking to end the violent war in Syria between the forces of President Bashar Assad and anti-government rebels, which has resulted in more than 360,000 deaths and displaced millions more.

Read more: In Syria, death notices for the missing bring unwelcome closure

Over the weekend, the heads of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany called for a political solution to the conflict and a permanent truce in the contested rebel-held Idlib area. The leaders also called for free elections for all Syrians, including those who have been forced to flee their country.

Over the past years, multiple peace talks involving various parties have taken place, but none have been able to resolve the conflict.

cmb/sms (AFP, AP)

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