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President of Guatemala visits ICRC

03-03-1995 News Release 1796

Geneva (ICRC) - The President of the Republic of Guatemala, Mr Ramiro De León Carpio, today visited the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). He was received by ICRC President Cornelio Sommaruga, two members of the Committee and several senior staff.

The ICRC President said that he was pleased to welcome Mr De León Carpio, Head of State of one of the 185 Parties to the Geneva Conventions. He went on to express his appreciation of Guatemala's support for the ICRC regional delegation in Guatemala City. This delegation works not only in the Republic but also in neighbouring countries to prevent or relieve human suffering and to spread knowledge of international humanitarian law and the principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, in particular respect for the dignity of the individual in all circumstances.

President Sommaruga mentioned that during the sombre period in Guatemala's recent past the ICRC had not been able fully to discharge its mandate in behalf of the many victims needing its assistance. He said it was time to find a way for the ICRC to fulfil its role effectively so as to ease tension between the different parties, in anticipation of a more peaceable future for Guatemala. " The support you give the ICRC in this respect, Mr President, will be vital " , declared Mr Sommaruga.

He concluded by paying tribute to Red Cross volunteers in Guatemala and by affirming the ICRC's resolve to provide support, together with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, for the efforts of the Guatemalan Red Cross to assume its place within the Movement.

In his reply, President De León Carpio said that he was pleased to have the opportunity to visit the ICRC and expressed his admiration for the institution's humanitarian work. He added that despite the difficulties the ICRC had experienced in connection with his country's internal problems, he had always had high regard for its efforts to assist victims around the world. He also expressed keen interest in the development and strengthening of the Guatemalan Red Cross.

Several prominent Guatemalan officials accompanied their President on his visit, including Marithza Ruiz de Vielman, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Federico Urruela Prado, Guatemala's Permanent Representative in Geneva, Carlos Enrique Reynoso Gil, Minister of the Interior, and Vicente Arranz, Chairman of the Presidential Commission for Human Rights.