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UN envoy meets with Hezbollah to discuss Syria

Staffan de Mistura is the first UN special representative to the Syrian conflict to meet with Hezbollah officials to get the organization's assessment of the Syrian crisis.
Lebanon's Hezbollah deputy Sheikh Naim Qassem speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in Beirut's suburbs, February 28, 2012. An Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear programme would set the Middle East ablaze, possibly drag in the United States and unleash a conflict beyond the Jewish state's control, the deputy head of Lebanon's pro-Iranian Hezbollah movement said. Picture taken February 28, 2012. To match interview IRAN-ISRAEL/HEZBOLLAH  REUTERS/ Sharif Karim   (LEBANON - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR2Y

Staffan de Mistura, special envoy of the UN secretary-general to resolve the Syrian conflict, visited Naim Qassem, deputy secretary-general of Hezbollah, Oct. 16 in Beirut. It is not the first time a Western or UN official has met with leading members of the Shiite organization despite the European Union designating the military wing a terrorist organization in July 2013. It is the first time, however, that a UN official directly involved with the Syrian crisis had requested and obtained a meeting with a prominent Hezbollah member to discuss developments in Syria, the causes behind the conflict and prospective outcomes.

De Mistura’s visit is unprecedented in that neither of his predecessors — Kofi Annan and Lakhdar Brahimi — made such a visit, even though Brahimi has known a number of Hezbollah members for more than two decades. In fact, Brahimi had served as a mediator between warring Lebanese parties in 1989. These acquaintances and friendships, however, did not lead Brahimi to go the extra mile to visit Hezbollah officials.

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