CAIRO - Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League mediator on Syria, said on Monday he would make his first visit to Damascus since taking the post in a few days and hoped to meet President Bashar Assad.

Brahimi, who replaced Kofi Annan as international mediator on Syria this month, told reporters at the Cairo-based Arab League that his assignment was a "very difficult mission but it was not my right to refuse to do what I can to try to help the Syrian people."

He has made similar comments about his mission since he was named as the new envoy. Annan had blamed a UN Security Council impasse for hampering his six-month bid to broker peace leading to his decision to step down.

"I will go to Damascus after a few days and I will meet officials and people from civil society and intellectuals in the capital and, God willing, outside the capital," Brahimi said, but did not give specific timings.

Asked if he would meet the Syrian president, Brahimi said: "I hope so but I don't know."

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