GENEVA - The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross begins a three-day-trip to Syria on Monday to try to improve access for aid workers to civilians in the war-torn country, the ICRC said.

Peter Maurer, a former senior Swiss diplomat who took over the independent agency from Jakob Kellenberger on July 1, will hold talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad and other senior officials in Damascus, an ICRC statement said.

"Talks will mainly tackle the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation and the difficulties faced by the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent as they attempt to reach people affected by the armed conflict," it said.

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