September 7, 2012 - 15:14 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The new president of the Red Cross said Friday, Sept 7, he held “positive” talks with Syria’s president this week to gain access to detainees and free up deliveries of badly needed aid, The associated Press reported.
Peter Maurer, president of the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross, said his talks with Bashar Assad were “sober, to the point” and “clearly focused on humanitarian needs,” such as releasing deliveries of food, medicine and other supplies to hundreds of thousands of people.
Maurer told reporters he also visited rural areas around Damascus where residents told him “horrific accounts of armed attacks” and left him shocked.
He said the accounts left him with no doubt that Syria is engulfed in civil war since “all features of armed conflict are unfolding in front of us.”
Maurer, who just returned from a three-day visit, said the Red Cross assumes it has access to prison detainees based on Syria’s obligations under international humanitarian law, but that Assad gave no firm promises of how that would be implemented.
Assad, he added, “expressed his readiness to address this issue.”
Since the uprising began in March 2011, there have been tens of thousands of people detained in Syria, Maurer said, and “their basic rights must be upheld and they must be able to get in touch with their families.”
Asked his impressions of Assad, Maurer, a veteran Swiss diplomat, declined to specify. But he said Assad and other ministers generally agreed on the need to reduce barriers to delivering aid.