UK & World News

  • 16 November 2012, 13:18

Syria's Opposition Coalition In Hague Talks

The future of Syria is hanging in the balance, the Foreign Secretary has said.

William Hague made the comment after meeting the leaders of a coalition opposed to President Bashar al Assad.

After initial talks in London, he said he was "encouraged" by what he heard from them and that Britain would like to recognise them as the official Syrian opposition.

A decision would be made over the coming days, he said.

In a statement at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Mr Hague said they had had a "detailed discussion" about the coalition's next steps.

"The formation of the coalition is a very encouraging development and I'm further encouraged by the discussions I've had with them this morning," he said.

"It's important and I've stressed to them that they respect minority rights, that they are inclusive of all communities in Syria, committed to a democratic future for the people of Syria, that in the face of a regime that has committed such abuse, violence and rape against the people of their own country that this coalition stands firmly against all of those things, that they uphold high standards of human rights, of international humanitarian law, preventing sexual violence, preventing abuse of prisoners.

"These things are very important to their future and to international support for them. I'm encouraged by their response to that."

He added: "I hope that this meeting today will mark a turning point for the Syrian people and that it will begin the major steps towards a political transition in Syria."

Mr Hague is the first European leader to meet the National Coalition of the Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, which was formed from Syria's disparate opposition groups at a meeting in Doha last week.

Mr Hague said: "We are in a position where the future of Syria hangs in the balance. Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians are under attack or are displaced from their homes, which gives real urgency to our discussions."

The Foreign Secretary is to make a further statement on the matter in the Commons next week.

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