Report says Assad considering asylum

Dec. 5, 2012 at 11:57 AM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- If he is forced to flee Damascus, Syrian President Bashar Assad is considering political asylum in Latin America, an Israeli newspaper reported Wednesday.

Haaretz reported Assad may seek asylum for himself, his family and close aides. Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad met last week with officials in Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador, delivering sealed letters written by Assad to leaders.

A source in Caracas, Venezuela, confirmed to the newspaper a letter from Assad was handed to President Hugo Chavez but did not describe the response.

However, the British newspaper The Guardian said Ghassan Abbas, Syria's ambassador to Venezuela, denied reports the Syrian leader is seeking asylum in Venezuela.

"You can ask our Venezuelan counterparts. In several interviews Assad said he was born in Syria and will die in Syria. Right now he is not afraid. He is in a strong position. There is no probability that this news is true," Abbas said, adding al-Miqdad's visit was routine "to further bilateral cooperation."

In the past, Assad turned down a number of offers for safe-havens from Russia and other Arab countries.

Last month British Prime Minister David Cameron said Assad could be allowed safe passage out of the country if it would end the ongoing civil war. In an interview on Russia Today last month, however, Assad said he never would leave Syria.

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