Assad not Seeking Asylum in Ecuadorإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Ecuador said Thursday it has not offered Bashar Assad asylum amid speculation the embattled Syrian president was weighing Latin America as a place of refuge.
"Totally denied," Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said on his Twitter account. "No Syrian citizen has requested asylum in Ecuador, much less its current president."
The asylum speculation stems from a recent trip to Cuba by Syria's deputy foreign minister, Fayssal Mekdad, who delivered a message from Assad to Cuban President Raul Castro, according to the official Cuban news agency Prensa Latina.
The Syrian official also was reported to have traveled to Venezuela, Nicaragua and Ecuador, whose leftist governments have close relations with Havana.
Asked about the reports, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Wednesday that the United States was aware that some countries had offered to host Assad and his family should he leave Syria.
"We, at this point, don't have any formal understanding or knowledge of concrete offers. We are aware that some offers have been made, as I said, informally, but we don't have any concrete offers."
Assad has so far rebuffed international pressure to step down, but fighting has intensified around Damascus amid a brutal civil war that human rights monitors estimate has claimed at least 42,000 lives.