India, Brazil, South Africa mount pressure on Syria

August 11th, 2011 - 6:32 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 11 (IANS) With the crisis in Syria worsening by the day, India, Brazil and South Africa have mounted pressure on Damascus to accelerate political reforms and called for ensuring a credible judicial probe into the violence that killed hundreds of civilians.

An IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) delegation comprising Ebrahim Ebrahim, South Africa’s deputy minister of international relations and cooperation, Paulo Cordeiro de Andrade Pinto, Brazil’s under secretary general for Africa and the Middle East and Dilip Sinha, additional secretary in India’s external affairs ministry, called on Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus Wednesday.

They also met Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moualem to discuss the festering crisis in Syria and the way forward against the backdrop of the European members of the Security Council threatening further action against the Assad regime and the US tightening sanctions against Damascus.

“They expressed grave concern at the current situation in Syria and condemned violence from all sides,” India’s external affairs ministry said in a statement here Thursday.

“They called for an immediate end to all violence and urged all sides to act with utmost restraint and respect for human rights and international human rights law,” the ministry said.

Alluding to the establishment of an independent judicial committee to investigate the violence, the delegation stressed the importance of ensuring the credibility and impartiality of the exercise.

Around 1,500 people are said to have died in a brutal crackdown on civilian protesters since unrest began in Syria over four months ago.

The Syrian president reassured the delegation of his “commitment to the reform process, aimed at ushering in multi-party democracy, including through revision of the constitution”.

Bashar assured the IBSA delegation that political reforms were being finalised in consultation with the people of Syria and the national dialogue would continue to give shape to the new laws.

While acknowledging that Syrian security forces had made some mistakes in the initial stages of unrest, Assad told the delegation that the process of revision of the constitution would be completed by February/March 2012.

Briefing the delegation, Al-Moualem told them that free and fair elections to parliament will be held in Syria before 2011-end. He recalled the statement of the Syrian president to rewrite the Constitution of Syria, if considered necessary.

The visit of the delegation took place a week after the the UN Security Council, presided over by India, condemned the Syrian government’s deadly crackdown on civilians pushing for democratic reforms and asked all sides to act with “utmost restraint”.

India currently holds the rotating presidency of the 15-member Security Council for this month.

Early this month, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad visited India and urged New Delhi to not to be misled by “Western propaganda” about alleged crackdown on protests and sought its support for the reform process.

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