Assad seeking Vatican support before Geneva peace talks



ARA News

Vatican City, Rome, Italy − The Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has reportedly sent a message to Pope Francis, the Pope of the Catholic Church and Bishop of Rome, on Saturday. 

In an official statement, the Vatican revealed that the Pope has received Assad’s message, without disclosing its content. 

The Pope has repeatedly addressed the civil war in Syria calling for an end to the 33-month-old conflict between the Syrian regime and opposition groups. Christmas was the last occasion during which Pope Francis pointed out to the importance of achieving peace in Syria. 

Assad’s message to the Vatican is considered the first of its kind since the start of the ongoing war.

Sources in the Vatican confirmed to ARA News that Assad has basically emphasized in his message the willingness of his regime to end the conflict and its commitment to peace, expressing appreciation to Pope Francis efforts and concerns about the developments in Syria. 

The sources added that President Assad appealed to the Vatican to bless the forthcoming peace talks, planned in Jan.21 in Geneva. 

The Syrian President’s message was delivered through an official delegation headed by Syrian Minister of State, Joseph Sweid, who held talks with Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the Pope’s Secretary of State on Saturday. 

Pope Francis is known for his rejection to any military intervention in Syria.

Opposition activists said that Assad wants to strengthen his position in Geneva II peace talks through contacting the Vatican Pope days before the forthcoming Geneva talks.

“The Syrian regime wants to present itself as a protector of minorities, especially Christians in Syria,” said Ali Dawood, opposition activist. “The regime intends to show the opposition merely as a danger to all minorities in Syria. Assad’s propaganda cannot succeed because his shells and rockets didn’t differentiate between the various components of the Syrian community,” he told ARA News.

The Syrian State-run news agency SANA reported that the Assad message entailed the regime determination to “eliminate terrorism” in Syria through “criticizing regional and international powers who support terrorist groups with weapons and logistics”, who were described by Assad as “enemies of peace in Syria”. 

According to SANA, the message also said: “the crisis will be solved through national dialogue among the Syrians and under a Syrian leadership without foreign intervention as to enable the Syrians to determine their future and leadership through ballots.”

According to regime officials, the vision of the Syrian regime and that of Pope Francis for a solution in Syria is “identical”, entailing that “dialogue is the only way to a real political solution” for the current crisis. 


By: Adib Abdulmajid

Source: ARA News


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