Assad admits some mistakes before IBSA delegation

He assured the IBSA delegation that he is committed to the reform process.

The IBSA delegation comprising Additional Secretary for International Organisations at the Indian Foreign Ministry Dilip Sinha, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa Ebrahim Ebrahim and Brazil's under secretary for Middle East affairs Paulo Cordeiro went to Damascus to discuss the current situation in Syria and the way forward.

President Assad "acknowledged that some mistakes had been made by the security forces in the initial stages of the unrest and that efforts were underway to prevent their recurrence," according to a statement released by India's UN mission.

Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Walid Al-Moualem also informed the delegation that "free and fair elections to the Parliament will be held in Syria before end 2011" reiterating that Syria will be a "free, pluralistic and multi-party democracy before the end of the year."

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," the statement said.

He said that "political reforms were being finalized in consultation with the people of Syria and the national dialogue would continue to give shape to the new laws and to arrive at a suitable model for the economy." The process of revision of the constitution would be completed by February/March 2012.

Moualem briefed the delegation about reasons behind the unrest and explained the steps taken by the government to bring the situation under control.

He said the opposition in Syria comprised the economically disadvantaged sections, intellectuals and academics and armed groups.

The delegation expressed "grave concern" at the current situation in Syria and condemned violence from all sides. It reaffirmed the commitment of India, Brazil and South Africa to the "sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria."

The envoys "regretted all loss of life and were concerned over the humanitarian impact of the violence," the statement said.

"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 delegation also noted the establishment of an independent judicial committee to investigate the violence and "stressed the importance of ensuring the credibility and impartiality" of such a committee.

The delegation stressed that it is essential for the Syrian government not to lose momentum and to continue the process of national dialogue and political reforms with the "aim of effectively addressing the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the population."

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