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article imageSyria's President Assad's letter to Pope Francis

By Robert Myles     Dec 30, 2013 in World
Rome - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Saturday, sent a message to Pope Francis through a Syrian delegation to the Vatican headed up by Syria’s Minister of State Joseph Sweid.
The Syrian representative met with the Pope’s Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, considered second-in-command of the Holy See.
A statement issued by the Vatican’s press office, recorded: “the delegation brought a message from President Assad for the Holy Father and explained the position of the Syrian government”.
In the Syrian President’s message, Assad expresses “the Syrian people and leadership's appreciation” of the Pope Francis’ stance on the Syrian crisis.
Saturday’s message from the Syrian leader also made reference to a resolution to the crisis in Syria being found through national dialogue among the Syrians, without foreign intervention.
It stressed the Syrian government’s resolve to participate in the upcoming international peace conference on Syria, the so-called “Geneva 2” talks. But it highlighted that combating what it termed “terrorism” — the Syrian government consistently refers to those opposed to it as “terrorists” — would be a decisive factor in successfully constructing a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict.
To that end, the message reiterated Syrian government calls for countries to cease supporting the armed “terrorist” groups and stop providing military, logistic or training support. In a thinly veiled reference to Saudi Arabia, widely believed to be a leading supporter of some Syrian opposition groups, the Syrian President, noted “that this support was provided by some of Syria's neighbors and other known countries in the Middle East and abroad.”
The United Nations has scheduled Jan. 22, 2014 as the start date for negotiations to resolve the Syrian conflict. But there are already concerns that the talks will be boycotted by Syrian groups opposed to Assad. On Christmas Eve, Syria’s opposition coalition said it would not attend the Geneva talks in the face of the Assad regime’s forces continuing to bombard the northern city of Aleppo.
On Dec. 26, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon strongly condemned the Syrian regime’s recent escalation of the bombardment of the city. The UN reports that Syrian government forces had resorted to the use of so-called “barrel bombs” — oil drums filled with explosives and shrapnel and dropped by aircraft — adding a new dimension to the fighting in and around beleaguered Aleppo.
At Saturday’s meeting, Archbishop Parolin said Pope Francis was constantly following the situation in Syria and is deeply concerned over the suffering of the Syrian people. He reaffirmed the Pope’s view that the Syrian crisis required resolution by discussion among Syrians without foreign intervention.
During Pope Francis’ Christmas message, “Urbi et Orbi”, the Holy Father had made reference to the Syrian conflict, calling for Divine help for all sides in the conflict “to put an end to all violence and guarantee access to humanitarian aid.”
Back in August, Pope Francis made an earlier call for peace in Syria, stating, “It is not confrontation that offers hope to resolve problems, but rather the ability to meet and dialogue.”
More about syrian conflict, president assad, bashar al assad, Syrian revolution, pope francis
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