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Syria says Assad's deputy did not try to defect
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria's Vice-President Farouq al-Shara has never considered leaving the country, state media said on Saturday, after reports that Shara had tried to defect to neighbouring Jordan.
A cousin of Shara's announced his defection on Thursday, calling on the army to join the "revolution" against Assad.
But state media said the vice president had been working since the start of the uprising to reach a political solution to end the bloodshed. Shara welcomed the appointment of veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi as a new international mediator for Syria, it added.
"Farouq al-Shara has never thought for a moment about leaving the country," Syrian television quoted a statement from Shara's office as saying.
Shara, appointed six years ago after the defection of Abdul-Halim Khaddam, is a Sunni Muslim from the southern Deraa province where the 17-month-old uprising against Alawite President Bashar al-Assad first erupted.
The 73-year-old former foreign minister kept a low profile as the rebellion against Assad escalated, but appeared in public last month at a state funeral for three of Assad's top security officials killed in a bomb attack in Damascus.
(Reporting by Dominic Evans; Editing by Andrew Osborn)
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