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Syria: ICRC president returns to Damascus

03-09-2011 News Release 11 / 178

Geneva (ICRC) – Jakob Kellenberger, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), will arrive in Damascus later today for a two-day visit during which he will hold talks with the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, the prime minister, Adel Safar, and the minister of foreign affairs and expatriates, Walid Muallem.

During the ICRC president's visit to Syria in June, an understanding was reached according to which the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent would have enhanced access to areas of unrest, and negotiations would take place concerning ICRC visits to detainees. The purpose of the talks to be held in the Syrian capital today and tomorrow is to review progress made in both these areas since June.

Ensuring that the sick and the wounded have access to medical care will be among the particularly urgent humanitarian challenges to be addressed with the Syrian authorities. The ICRC president's visit will also offer an opportunity to discuss the impending start of ICRC visits to persons detained by the Ministry of the Interior. The ICRC visits detainees in order to assess the conditions in which they are being held and the treatment they receive.

The ICRC president will also meet with the president and other senior officials of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to discuss the ongoing humanitarian activities of the two organizations.

For further information, please contact:
Hicham Hassan, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 41 or +41 79 536 92 57
Carla Haddad Mardini, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 05 or +41 79 217 32 26