GENEVA (Reuters) - The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Tuesday during a mission to push for better access for aid workers, an ICRC spokesman said.
Red Cross chief Peter Maurer held 45 minutes of talks with the Syrian leader, spokesman Hicham Hassan said. He did not give details of their discussions.
The ICRC said at the start of Maurer’s three-day trip on Monday that it would tackle the “rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation” in Syria, where Assad has been trying to crush a 17-month-old uprising against his rule, and the difficulties facing aid workers in the country.
After his talks with Assad, Maurer went straight into a meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad.
Maurer, who is also scheduled to meet Interior Minister General Mohamad Ibrahim, has said he would continue efforts to gain access for the ICRC to Syria’s detention centers - which rights groups say hold tens of thousands of people rounded up during the conflict.
The ICRC has 50 foreign and Syrian aid workers in Syria, but all have been confined to Damascus since late July due to heavy fighting.
Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Jon Boyle