Assad admits `mistakes` to UN council delegation

Rights groups say over 2,000 people have died in protests since an uprising started in mid-March.

New York: Syria`s President Bashar al-Assad admitted on Wednesday that his security forces had made "some mistakes" in battling protests, as he met with several UN Security Council members.

The deputy foreign ministers from the three emerging powers of Brazil, India and South Africa met Assad and Foreign Minister Walid Muallem in Damascus to call for an "immediate end to all violence" in Syria, a statement said.

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”, said the statement released by India`s UN mission.

Rights groups say more than 2,000 people have died in protests since an uprising started in mid-March. More deaths were reported on Wednesday as the talks went ahead.

The Syrian President "reassured the delegation of his commitment to the reform process, aimed at ushering in multi-party democracy”, according to the statement.

"He said that political reforms were being finalised 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."

Assad was quoted as saying that constitutional revisions would be completed by February-March.

International critics of Assad say he has done nothing to embark on the reforms.

Brazil, India and South Africa had initially been among several members of the 15-nation UN Security Council resisting efforts by European powers and the United States to agree on a council condemnation of the violence.

A statement was unanimously passed last week as the violence worsened.

South African Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim, Brazil`s Under Secretary for Middle East Affairs Paulo Cordeiro and Dilip Sinha, an additional secretary at the Indian foreign ministry, went on the mission to Damascus.

They "expressed grave concern at the current situation in Syria and condemned violence from all sides. They 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."

The delegation noted the creation of an independent judicial committee but "stressed the importance of ensuring the credibility and impartiality" of the body.

The statement quoted Muallem as saying that "Syria will be a free pluralistic and multi-party democracy before the end of the year."

Bureau Report

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