Syria grants more access to the Red Cross

The Syrian authorities have agreed to give the Red Cross greater access to civilians and areas affected by the country's conflict.

This content was published on June 21, 2011 - 16:44 and agencies

The two days of talks in Damascus on humanitarian issues have been "frank and operational", the Swiss-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported on Tuesday.

Until now, the aid agency has only been allowed to visit a handful of cities.

"The Syrian officials were receptive and agreed to give the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent wider access to areas of unrest," said Red Cross President Jakob Kellenberger in a statement. "I will closely monitor how this understanding is put into practice."

Kellenberger met Syrian Prime Minister Adel Safar and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, as well as the president of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Abd al-Rahman al-Attar, and Red Crescent volunteers.

According to Kellenberger, the Syrian government voiced its "readiness to discuss terms and conditions" of ICRC visits to detainees.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a general amnesty on Tuesday, a day after promising reforms to counter a popular revolt against his autocratic rule.

Human rights groups say at least 1,300 civilians have been killed and another 10,000 people detained since the popular uprising began in March.

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