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PACE president resigns over Syria visit

PACE PRESIDENT RESIGNS OVER SYRIA VISIT

Pedro Agramunt has announced on Friday his resignation as the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) following a controversy over his "unauthorized" visit to Syria and a meeting with President Bashar al-Assad in March.

"Today, for personal reasons, I have decided to no longer chair the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe," Agramunt wrote on Twitter.

According to a PACE statement, a motion for Agramunt's dismissal which had been scheduled for debate at the opening of the plenary session in Strasbourg on Oct. 9 "will now not take place".

PACE said the most senior vice president of the assembly, British conservative Roger Gale, becomes automatically the acting president "until the election of a new President at the following part-session of the Assembly".

Agramunt visited Syria on March 20 and 21 along with members of Russia's State Duma -- lower house of parliament -- and some PACE representatives.

They all met Assad and held talks during a joint meeting of the international committees of the Russian and Syrian parliaments.

Agramunt said at the time that he had traveled to Syria as a private individual rather than as PACE president.

On April 28, the PACE Bureau passed a motion of no confidence in Agramunt, president of PACE since January 2016.

Agramunt will remain a member of the Spanish delegation at PACE.

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