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Syria President Bashar al-Assad.  (AP file photo)


Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad acknowledged that some mistakes were made by his security forces in the initial stages of the unrest and assured an IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) team which called on him on Wednesday that efforts were under way to prevent their recurrence.

All three members of the IBSA grouping are on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and had dashed to Damascus to open a reasonable dialogue between Mr. Assad and the international community to lower rising tensions in West Asia.

These were triggered by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's statement on the Syrian unrest and the recalling of envoys from Damascus by some Arab countries.

Mr. Assad and his Foreign Minister Walid Al-Muallem briefed the team about the intricacies of the situation and steps being taken to prevent citizens from taking to the streets in some Syrian cities such as Hama and Dara.

The unusual Indian initiative of sending an envoy preceded a report to be tabled on the Syrian situation by U.N. Secretary General Ban ki-Moon.

It also takes place against the backdrop of Russia calling on the international community to “put pressure” on the Opposition to “respond to the authorities' invitation for dialogue.”

The Syrian President reassured the delegation of his commitment to the reform process, aimed at ushering in multi-party democracy.
 
He said political reforms were being finalised and the process of revising the constitution would be completed by early next year.

Mr. Muallem briefed the delegation about the government's take on the prevailing situation in Syria, a version that has been underplayed by the Western dominated media and the curbs on press reporting by Damascus.

The Syrian Foreign Minister said there were three categories of opposition: the economically disadvantaged; intellectuals and academics; and armed groups.

The visiting team recalled the adoption of UNSC Presidential Statement of August 3 and reaffirmed the commitment of IBSA to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria.

The team expressed grave concern over the current situation and condemned the violence from “all sides.”

In noting the establishment of an independent judicial committee to investigate the violence, the visiting delegation stressed the importance of ensuring its credibility and impartiality.

Mr. Muallem responded that once the report of the committee became available, those responsible for the violence would be held to account.

The IBSA team urged the government to positively consider the resolution adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council and stressed that it was essential for the Syrian government to continue the process of national dialogue and political reforms.