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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