UNITED NATIONS - The man expected to replace Kofi Annan as the UN-Arab League mediator on Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi of Algeria, on Friday urged world leaders to overcome their differences on a 17-month-old conflict that is descending deeper into full-scale civil war.
"The UN Security Council and regional states must unite to ensure that a political transition can take place as soon as possible," Brahimi said in a statement published on the website of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders committed to peace and human rights.
"Millions of Syrians are clamoring for peace," Brahimi said. "World leaders cannot remain divided any longer, over and above their cries."
It is Brahimi's first public statement on Syria since diplomats told Reuters on Thursday that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was expected to name the veteran Algerian diplomat as early as next week to replace Annan.
Annan, a former UN secretary-general and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said he would step down on Aug. 31 because he was not able to carry out his job with the UN Security Council's veto powers hopelessly divided and deadlocked.