June 20, 2013
Red Cross chief holds aid talks with Syria's Assad
The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus today during a mission to push for better access for aid workers, an ICRC spokesman said.
"During the meeting with President Assad this morning, the ICRC president discussed issues related to the protection of the civilian population during the conduct of hostilities such as the importance of access to health care and basic necessities and also visits to persons detained in Syria," ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan said.
"The meeting between President Assad and President Maurer was positive," Hassan added, without elaborating.
Red Cross chief Peter Maurer held 45 minutes of talks with the Syrian leader, spokesman Hicham Hassan said.
The ICRC said at the start of Maurer's three-day trip that it would tackle the "rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation" in Syria, where Assad has been trying to crush a 17-month-old uprising against his rule, and the difficulties facing aid workers in the country.
After his talks with Assad, Maurer went straight into a meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad.
Maurer, who is also scheduled to meet Interior Minister General Mohamad Ibrahim, has said he would continue efforts to gain access for the ICRC to Syria's detention centres - which rights groups say hold tens of thousands of people rounded up during the conflict.
The ICRC has 50 foreign and Syrian aid workers in Syria, but all have been confined to Damascus since late July due to heavy fighting.