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UN diplomats: UN-Arab League envoy to Syria wants to resign because peace efforts have failed

Lakhdar Brahimi wants to resign as the joint United Nations-Arab League envoy to Syria because his efforts to find a political solution to the escalating conflict have failed, U.N. diplomats said Wednesday.

Brahimi has found that speaking for two organizations with different views on Syria has made his role of trying to mediate a political transition almost impossible, two diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because their discussions with Brahimi were private.

While U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been calling for talks and urging all countries to stop arming the Syrian government and rebels, the Arab League is supporting the Syrian opposition, which Brahimi finds especially troubling, the diplomats said.

Brahimi is also fed up with the divisions in the U.N. Security Council that have prevented any action on Syria, the diplomats said.

The longtime U.N. diplomatic troubleshooter took the job as envoy in August after former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan resigned in frustration following a six-month effort that failed to achieve even a temporary cease-fire in the conflict. Fighting between government forces and rebel fighters has escalated since then, increasing the death toll to more than 70,000 people, according to the U.N.

Rumors have circulated for weeks that Brahimi was going to resign. The 79-year-old former Algerian foreign minister told reporters after briefing the Security Council on April 19 that he was thinking about it but hadn't resigned yet.

"Every day I wake up, I think I should resign," he said. "But I haven't so far. One day, perhaps, one day I will resign, and I assure you, you will find out."

The diplomats said that day may be coming soon, despite Brahimi's support from Ban, Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby and the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France.

Brahimi was appointed to the joint post by the U.N. General Assembly, so if he resigns it must be from both the U.N. and Arab League positions — even if he wanted to remain a U.N. envoy.

Brahimi went to Washington on Monday to meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who reiterated the Obama administration's backing for his efforts to promote a political solution.

"We encourage him to continue with his work and we continue to support his mission," State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said.

He applauded Brahimi's efforts to advance the roadmap for a Syrian transition adopted by key nations at a meeting in Geneva on June 30, 2012. The plan calls for a political process that would start with the establishment of a transitional governing body vested with full executive powers and end with elections.

"This is somebody who has, for many months, labored in the very noble cause of trying to help peace in Syria and certainly a political transition which is, as we've long said, our preferred route and the best route to end the violence and stop the suffering of the Syrian people," Ventrell said. "We reiterate our support for his mission despite the challenging circumstances."

The diplomats said Ban might appoint Brahimi as an adviser on Syria and the Middle East if he resigns, because when the situation on the ground changes in Syria the U.N. will need someone with his diplomatic skills and wisdom who speaks Arabic to be ready to help promote a political transition.

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Associated Press Writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report from Washington