In brief: Brahimi accepts peace envoy role
United Nations – Lakhdar Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister and longtime U.N. diplomat known as a strong-willed, independent broker, has agreed to replace former Secretary-General Kofi Annan as peace envoy to Syria, the United Nations announced Friday.
Brahimi, who served as a U.N. envoy in Afghanistan and Iraq, formally accepted the post and will resume efforts to find a diplomatic solution to Syria’s crisis, said Eduardo del Buey, deputy spokesman for Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
Annan announced earlier this month that he would resign on Aug. 31 as joint U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, after failing to broker a cease-fire as the country descended into civil war. The U.N. says at least 18,000 people have been killed since March 2011.
Brahimi will travel to New York and then Cairo in the coming days.
Tropical Storm Helene to hit Mexico
Veracruz, Mexico – Tropical Storm Helene formed just offshore in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico on Friday, threatening coastal areas of eastern Mexico where thousands of people are still recovering from flooding spawned by Hurricane Ernesto.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Helene was barely a tropical storm by late Friday but could strengthen again before making an expected landfall today.
The storm was centered about 65 miles east of Tuxpan. It had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and was moving northwest at 7 mph.
Helene was forecast to make landfall in the northern part of Veracruz, a lush coastal state with hundreds of towns and villages sitting along streams and rivers that can swell dangerously in heavy rain. Many were evacuated during Ernesto, which hit last week, and some 10,000 were left homeless.