Red Cross chief to meet Syrian ministers over aid: ICRC

AFP , Monday 2 Apr 2012

ICRC chief holds talks in Damascus with Syrian regime over expand the agency humanitarian aid operations to people effected in violence, and will also seek access to detention centres

Red Cross chief Jakob Kellenberger is travelling to Syria Monday where he will meet ministers over humanitarian and detention issues, the ICRC relief agency said.

"I am determined to see the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent expand their presence, range and scope of activities to address the needs of vulnerable people. This will be a key element of my talks with the Syrian officials," said Kellenberger in a statement.

During his third visit to Syria since 2011, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross will meet senior officials including Foreign Minister Walid al-Mu'alem, Interior Minister Mohamad al-Shaar and Health Minister Wael al-Halki.

Beyond discussing aid issues, Kellenberger will seek access to detention centres as well as examine "practical measures for implementing our initiative for a daily two-hour cessation of fighting," the statement said.

The ICRC has been central in pushing for a daily humanitarian truce, with Kellenberger travelling to Moscow to get Russia, a key Syria ally, to back the idea.

Kellenberger also visited the United States last week where he discussed the situation in Syria with US Secretary of States Hillary Clinton.

According to UN estimates, more than 9,000 people have died in the regime's crackdown on an uprising that began in March last year, inspired by Arab Spring protests that toppled long-time dictators in Tunisia and Egypt.

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