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Ex-UN chief Annan likely to be UN Syria envoy

Diplomats say former UN chief Kofi Annan is leading candidate to be new UN envoy to Syria By The Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) ' United Nations diplomats say former secretary-general Kofi Annan is the leading candidate to be the new U.N. envoy to Syria.

The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because discussions have been private. They say Annan's successor, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, is likely to announce his choice Friday to coincide with a major international conference on Syria in Tunisia's capital.

Diplomats said Thursday that Ban couldn't find a high-level Arab acceptable to both sides and turned to Annan and former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari. Both are veteran mediators ' Annan in Kenya and Ahtisaari in Kosovo ' and both are Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Diplomats said the new envoy will have a difficult mandate ' trying to end the violence and arrange a political transition.

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