President Bashar al-Assad told Red Cross chief Peter Maurer on Tuesday that he supports the work of the aid group in Syria so long as it remains "impartial and independent," state televisionreported.

"President Assad assured the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross that he welcomed the humanitarian operations carried out by the committee on the ground in Syria, as long as it remains impartial and independent," state news agency SANA added.

It said the ICRC chief welcomed "the cooperation shown by the Syrian government" in his meeting with Assad and "the bridges of trust that have been built between the two parties."

Maurer was in Damascus on Tuesday for talks with Assad and other officials on ways to deliverhumanitarian aid to Syrians caught up in the civil war, an ICRC spokeswoman said.