Assad sends letter to Zuma

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday called on the BRICS nations to intervene to end the conflict in his country, in a letter delivered by his adviser Bouthaina Shaaban during a trip to South Africa.

Speaking to AFP, Shaaban said she had delivered the letter to South African President Jacob Zuma ahead of the BRICS summit in South Africa on 26 March.

"Today I passed a message from President Bashar al-Assad to President Jacob Zuma, who will preside over the March 26 BRICS summit, on the subject of the situation in Syria," Shaaban said, reached by telephone from Beirut.

"In this message, President Bashar al-Assad asks for intervention by the BRICS to stop the violence in his country and encourage the opening of a dialogue, which he wishes to start."

Shaaban said during the meeting with Zuma, which was also attended by South Africa's foreign minister, "the president was very positive and deplored the destruction affecting this beautiful country".

The BRICS acronym refers to the nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, all developing powers which opposed the use of force in Libya.