Britain says Syria opposition coalition a "milestone"

CAIRO Tue Nov 13, 2012 12:40pm GMT

CAIRO (Reuters) - British Foreign Secretary William Hague welcomed the latest effort by Syria's opposition to form a united front against Bashar al-Assad, but said more needed to be done before Britain formally recognised it.

Exiled opposition leaders formed a coalition on Sunday and the grouping is now seeking international recognition as a government-in-waiting.

Western powers demanding that Syrian leader Assad step down to end a 19-month rebellion have been frustrated by squabbling among his opponents.

"It is a very important milestone," Hague told reporters at a meeting of Arab and European ministers at the Arab League in Cairo on Tuesday.

"We want the Syrian opposition to be inclusive ... and to have support inside Syria and if they have this, yes, we will then recognise them as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people."

He said that did not imply that Britain would be ready to send weapons to the opposition because the European Union had placed an arms embargo on Syria.

But he added: "But we are not excluding any option in the future because ... the Syrian crisis is getting worse and worse all the time".

Some 2.5 million people have been internally displaced by the country's civil war, double the previous figure of 1.2 million used by aid agencies, the United Nations refugee agency said, citing the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

Hague said more needed to be done by the European Union and the Arab League to press for global assistance for Syrian civil society and human rights groups, according to a statement issued by Britain's Foreign Office on Tuesday.

"The winter cold and rain will heap further misery on soaring numbers of Syrian refugees and displaced people," he said in the statement.

(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh; Writing by Shaimaa Fayed; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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Comments (1)
Raymond.Vermont wrote:
Clearly the elimination of those Syrian entities whom arranged the funding, flow and funneling of Jihadists into Iraq (during US/UK intervention and regime change there) is a welcome aspect of the Syrian Civil War.

However no social contract should be spoken of to exist between Syrian opposition and the western powers, as clearly that is a burden too far to take.

As for Hague twittering about the European Union, then one suspects that he means Germany and France, as they are the primary components of the European ‘political’ Union.

Nov 13, 2012 6:27pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
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