GENEVA, Sept 3 (Reuters) - The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross will begin a visit to Syria on Monday and have talks with President Bashar al-Assad to try to improve humanitarian access 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 meet Assad and other senior officials in Damascus during the three-day trip, according to an ICRC statement.
"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.
In Geneva, ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan said that Maurer's meetings would begin on Tuesday.
The ICRC deploys 50 foreign and Syrian aid workers in Syria, but all have been confined to Damascus since late July due to the heavy fighting in what it has said has become an internal armed conflict, or civil war in layman's terms.
The agency was not able to send out any aid convoys for more than two weeks, but did manage late last week to send some relief supplies to rural Damascus and Homs for distribution by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Hassan said.
"An adequate humanitarian response is required to keep pace with needs, which have been growing exponentially," Maurer said.