Russia urges Syria to accept daily humanitarian truce

19th March 2012, Comments 0 comments

Russia called on Syria Monday to immediately accept demands by the International Committee for the Red Cross for a daily humanitarian truce.

"The two parties call for the Syrian government and armed groups to immediately agree to a daily humanitarian truce to allow the ICRC access to the wounded and to civilians who need to be evactuated," a foreign ministry statement said after a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and ICRC president Jakob Kellenberger.

Moscow "underscored the need to allow the ICRC access to all detained persons in Syria following the protests", against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, the statement said.

ICRC officials in Moscow and Geneva said earlier that Kellenberger had "received positive indications of support" from Russia regarding his ceasefire proposal.

Russia first backed the idea in February and has since stepped up its criticism of Assad after first blocking two UN Security Council resolutions condemning him for the year of bloody violence.

Kellenberger told the ITAR-TASS news agency before leaving Moscow that he felt "gratified" that Russia shared Western concerns about the humanitarian situation in Syria.

"I would like to note with satisfaction and gratitude that Sergei Lavrov shares our concern about these problems," Kellenberger was quoted as saying.

"As you well understand, Russia's support is very important to us," he said. "The most important issue for us is to ensure humanitarian ceasefires as soon as possible."

Other important questions were free access to detainees and to ensure that prisoners were not ill-treated, he told ITAR-TASS and television channel Vesti 24.

Kellenberger is now in Brussels to ask NATO members to exert similar influence with Syria's rebel forces.

© 2012 AFP

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