Statement by Deputy Minister Ebrahim after Bilateral Meeting with Syrian counterpart, Mr Mikdad

Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media, I have just concluded a bilateral discussion with the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Mikdad. During our discussions earlier today we didn’t only focus on the situation in Syria, but also the developments in the region.

Vice-Minister, Mikdad has kindly shared in detail some of the attempts by the Syrian Government to bring about a peaceful end to the current challenges in their country through a political dialogue process.

In this regard, his presence today has assisted us a great deal to better understand   the current situation in Syria, and thereby be in a position to strengthen our own assessment of the situation. His presence is greatly  appreciate since we are about to embark on a working visit to Syria, where we will join Brazil and India (IBSA) in a  collective effort to further understand the situation, and to also, communicate a message to the Government of Syria.

During our frank interactions we made it clear that we believe that the Government of Syria should continue to work for an inclusive dialogue among the peoples of Syria. This dialogue should seek to meet the genuine aspirations of the Syrians.  Accordingly, we welcomed the announcement by President Assad to allow for multi-party democracy in Syria, and urge the Government to speed up the reform process. We also appeal to other actors inside Syria to participate in these efforts.

We appealed to Vice-Minister Mikdad that there the media should have free access in Syria, because we believe this would help to have a more objective views on the developments. We reiterate the importance of Syria in the region, and its crucial role in the Middle East Process (MEPP).

Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure you have all read the Presidential Statement issued by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) last week which we supported. You would have noticed that the Presidential Statement focused heavily on issues of human rights in Syria. And as such, we do hope that other relevant UN bodies, such as Human Rights Council would also be allowed to play their part.

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation

OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road
Rietondale
Pretoria

08 August 2011

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