Syria says hopes envoy's tour will help peace prospects

BEIRUT Wed Oct 17, 2012 3:52am EDT

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria said it hoped international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi's talks with Middle East states would help prospects for a "constructive initiative" to end its civil war, but reiterated that any peace plan must be respected by both sides.

Brahimi has called for a ceasefire to mark the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha later this month, after holding talks with leaders from several countries in the region - including allies and opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.

"Syria is awaiting the arrival of United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to hear about the results of his tour of the countries he visited, some of which have influence over the (rebel) armed groups," state news agency SANA quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi as saying.

It said Makdissi expressed the hope that Brahimi would bring "something which leads to the success of any constructive initiative" to solve a conflict which has ravaged Syria since it erupted 19 months ago and killed more than 30,000 people.

SANA said Makdissi had previously demonstrated its commitment to Arab or U.N. initiatives but that they had been thwarted by "armed groups and the countries that influence them".

Brahimi appealed on Sunday to leaders in Iran, Assad's strongest regional ally, to support a truce during Eid al-Adha which starts around October 25. He has also visited Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and was due in Lebanon on Tuesday.

Syria accuses Turkey, which has sheltered and supported armed rebels, as well as Sunni Gulf states Saudi Arabia and Qatar who back the mainly Sunni uprising against the Alawite president, of fuelling the continued bloodshed.

An April ceasefire brokered by Brahimi's predecessor, Kofi Annan, fell apart after a few days as both rebels and government forces resumed their military campaigns.

(Reporting by Dominic Evans; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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