Under rising pressure from West, Syria seeks India’s support (Lead)

August 2nd, 2011 - 11:39 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 2 (IANS) As the UN Security Council mulls a resolution on Syrian violence and more of the country’s officials face European Union sanctions, Syria has urged India, chair of the UN Security Council, not to be misled by “Western propaganda” about Damascus’s crackdown on protests and sought New Delhi’s support for the reform process.

In a lecture at the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) Tuesday, Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, who is here on a three-day visit, spoke about the progress in the reforms ushered in by President Bashar al-Assad and assured that the government was trying for dialogue and reconciliation with opposition groups.

Mekdad had met External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed Monday and explained to them the evolving situation in the country that has become more violent in recent weeks.

At least 120 people were allegedly killed Sunday by Syrian troops in a brutal crackdown on protesters in the city of Hama.

Mekdad briefed Krishna about “causes for violence in his country, reforms proposed by Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, details of national dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition groups, as well as, other issues related to public protests in Syria,” the external affairs ministry said here.

In different television interviews, Mekdad sought India’s support and understanding as top officials of his country faced fresh EU sanctions for alleged repression of protesters. India assumed the rotating presidentship of the UN Security Council Monday.

“I am here to brief the Indian leadership against the prefabricated misinformation and on the unrealistic propaganda machinery against Syria,” Mekdad told NewsX, an Indian TV news channel.

“Some circles in the West and in the United States want to aggravate the situation in Syria by supporting terrorist groups against the will of the overwhelming majority of the Syrian people,” he said.

“What we expect India to do is not to allow Western countries to use the UN as a forum to support terrorism, to support extremism and to support the killings of innocent people,” he said in a separate interview with CNN-IBN.

Around 1,500 people are said to have died since unrest began over four months ago.

India on its part has voiced concern over violence, with Krishna conveying to Mekdad that India expected the government of Syria to “exercise restraint, abjure violence and expedite the implementation of political reforms taking into account the aspirations of the people of Syria.”

The U.N. Security Council is set to start a second day of debate on a draft resolution condemning violence in Syria.

Syria is facing growing international condemnation to stop the crackdown. Italy recalled its ambassador to Syria on Tuesday, on account of the “horrible repression of the civilian population.”

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