'Spanish envoy offers Syrian president asylum'

Special envoy from Zapatero tells Assad aide he will be granted political asylum from Madrid should he step down, form transition government.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
August 15, 2011 10:36
1 minute read.
Syrian President Bashar Assad

assad speech 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Spain has offered Syrian President Bashar Assad political asylum should he relinquish power in Syria, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported.

Spanish President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero reportedly sent Secretary General of the Prime Minister Bernadino León - without a diplomatic passport - to Syria in order to hold meetings with top Syrian officials.

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The envoy reportedly told an aide close to Assad that the government in Madrid would be willing to provide Assad asylum should he give up power and end the bloody crackdown on Syrian protesters which has claimed the lives of more than 2,000 people including hundreds in Assad's own security forces.

According to El Pais, while the deal was mentioned to the Assad aide, Spain has not officially made the offer to the Syrian president. Zapatero drafted a three-point initiative in July for León to relay to Damascus: that Assad stop the bloody crackdown and wide arrests on Syrian protesters, engage with Spain in organizing a national conference in Madrid, and using this conference to formulate a timetable for a transitional government with members of the Syrian opposition to help implement reform.

Leon, El Pais reported, did not report much willingness from the government in Damascus, saying that he was under "the impression that [Assad] is not going to compromise on anything substantial."

Spain has a long history of offering Syrian nationals and political figures asylum, El Pais said, including a family member of Assad's who was active in the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

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