Syria in Talks with International Delegates

Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told envoys from Brazil, India and South Africa on Wednesday that Syria is committed to hold talks with pro-democracy protesters and engage in reforms, official SANA news agency said.

"Syria is committed to the national dialogue and enacting the reforms announced by President Bashar al-Assad on June 20, 2011," Muallem told the delegates, SANA reported.

He recalled that earlier this month Assad issued a decree allowing opposition parties to be formed alongside the Baath party that has been ruling the country for nearly 50 years.

Muallem also briefed the envoys of Brazil, India and South Africa on the situation in Syria where he said security forces are confronting "terrorist groups."

"Certain Syrian cities are under the grip of armed terrorist groups ... (and) troops have been deployed to such cities to restore stability and security," he said.

He said security forces began withdrawing from Hama, a hub of protest in central Syria, early Wednesday and reiterated Syria's rejection of any foreign intervention in its internal affairs.

"Syria is facing foreign interference and wide-spread media provocation seeking to pressure its independent political decisions which stand in the way of foreign agendas," he said.

The delegation included South African Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim, Paulo Cordeiro, Brazil's sub-secretary for Middle East issues, and Dilip Sinha, an additional secretary in the Indian foreign ministry.

They were dispatched to Syria to try and seek a halt to a deadly crackdown on anti-regime protests which have gripped Syria almost daily since mid-March.

The mission will highlight "the need for dialogue between the government and the people, and the need to halt the violence and respect human rights," a spokesman from Brazil's foreign ministry told Agence France Presse on Tuesday.

South Africa's foreign ministry described it as "a collective effort to further understand the situation, and to also communicate a message to the government of Syria."

"They need to allow as many voices as possible to partake in the situation and possible solutions that are relevant for the Syrian people."

India currently holds the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council and has expressed "concern" over the violence in Syria and called for restraint.

Source: Agence France Presse

Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved.