DAMASCUS - International envoy Lakhdar Brahimi called on Thursday for real change in Syria to end 21 months of conflict and said a transitional government must be established with full powers to rule the country until new elections.
Brahimi, speaking in Damascus at the end of a five-day trip to Syria during which he met President Bashar Assad, did not spell out what measures were needed but said that only substantial change would meet the demands of ordinary Syrians.
"Certainly it was clear in Geneva, and it's even clearer now that the change which is needed is not cosmetic or superficial," Brahimi said, referring to an international meeting on Syria in Switzerland six months ago.
"I believe the Syrian people need, want and aspire to genuine change and everyone knows what this means," he said.
"A government must be created ... with full powers. Full powers ... means this government must have all the powers of the state," Brahimi added. "This government will hold power during the transitional period."
Brahimi is due in Moscow on Saturday and said he also expected to have a third joint meeting with US and Russian officials soon following two rounds of talks earlier this month.
But he denied what he said were reports of a US-Russian plan to end the conflict in which 44,000 people have been killed.
The veteran diplomat, who took over as Syria envoy in August from former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, also said he was not yet proposing a "complete plan" to resolve the crisis.
"What is preferred is that we don't present such a plan until we feel that all sides have agreed to it. That way, implementing it is easy. If that doesn't happen, the other solution could be to go to the (United Nations) Security Council to issue a binding resolution for everyone," he said.