Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League Special Representative for Syria, has said that change in Syria has to be part of the solution.
The new envoy for Syria, who succeeds Kofi Annan, told Al Jazeera on Saturday that “change [in Syria] is necessary, indispensable, unavoidable”.
However, the man who has taken on the task of finding a solution to the Syrian crisis – has backed away from calling for President Bashar al-Assad to leave office.
He said his position is to engage all the parties and indicated that he would seek a negotiated outcome.
“It is too early to speak about who should go and who should stay. This is not a step backwards. Mr Assad is there and is the president of the present government,” he told Al Jazeera. “Kofi talked to him, and I will talk to him.”
His position is a departure from comments made by his predecessor Annan and the UN’s Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.
The new UN envoy said that the kind of change and what phases that change will take is something that is still to be discussed.
The veteran Algerian diplomat called on both sides to end the violence in the country.
Brahimi, who will officially take over the position on Tuesday after Annan resigned in August, has been holding meetings at the UN headquarters in New York.
He earlier told al-Arabiya television that a greater duty rests on the government of the country.
“I call on parties inside Syria to halt the fighting. Undoubtedly, this call is primarily directed to the government. More than others, it is the duty of governments, under any circumstances and anywhere, not just in Syria, to ensure security and stability for their people,” he said.
Hillary Mann Leverett, a professor of US foreign policy at American University, speaking to Al Jazeera from Washington DC, said that Brahimi’s track record is “power sharing”.
“He focuses on getting together all the critical players inside a country that need to be a part of a solution – and that’s power sharing … That’s putting everybody into the same pot and having them work together.”
Leverett said that Brahimi has already come out clearly against foreign intervention.
“That is critically important because that could prevent the escalation of the civil war in Syria and it could also start to dial back some of the armed support for opposition fighters in Syria,” she said.
“The other critical point he has made is his support for refusal to parrot Washington talking point that [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go.”
Leverett said that Brahimi is likely to come out on the side of the Syrians.
Brahimi and Ban Ki-moon plan to discuss the Syrian conflict at the general assembly.
Brahimi’s statements on Saturday come as the battle for control of Syria’s largest city Aleppo intensified, with government warplanes and ground forces pounding it with bombs and mortar rounds as rebel fighters fought off troops in the narrow alleys of the city’s old quarter.