UN aid chief presses for access to Syria needy | News | DW | 07.03.2012
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UN aid chief presses for access to Syria needy

United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has arrived in Syria to press the government of Bashar al-Assad to end the violent crackdown on opposition groups and allow aid into the country.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos arrived in Damascus on Wednesday for talks with officials from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

During the discussions, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem was reported to have told Amos that his government was ready to cooperate in giving her team access to cities devastated by recent fighting, such as Homs.

Valerie Amos

Amos' visit comes after weeks of pressure to allow her entry to Syria

State news agency SANA reported that Muallem "underlined Syria's commitment to cooperate with the delegation within the framework of the respect, sovereignty and independence of Syria and in coordination with the foreign ministry."

Amos left Damascus for Homs following the talks and was expected to make an assessment of conditions there.

Countries seeking a resolution against the Assad regime are believed to be awaiting the results of Amos' trip to the Syrian capital as well as a visit by the new UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan.

Annan is to visit Damascus on Saturday and is also expected to call for peace and humanitarian access to Syrians caught up in the ongoing conflict.

The trips come as the five major UN powers - the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia - discuss new efforts to press for a halt to the violence in Syria.

New text proposed

The US is pushing a text it hopes will be adopted by the divided UN Security Council, where Russia and China have twice used their powers as permanent members to veto Syria resolutions.

A new draft obtained by news agency AFP calls on the Syrian government to immediately cease all violence, withdraw security forces from protest cities and release prisoners held over the protests.

The text also calls on opposition groups to "refrain from all violence."

It is believed as many as 3,000 Syrians have fled over the border to Lebanon since rebel forces withdrew from the central city of Homs late last week.

Those who have reached Lebanon have told journalists that they feared if they had stayed in Syria they would have been killed.

The UN estimates that more than 7,500 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising against Assad's regime broke out one year ago.

dfm, rc/ncy (Reuters, AFP, dpa)