Britain hopes to decide within days whether to recognise new Syrian opposition, says William Hague

 

Foreign Secretary William Hague today hailed a potential turning point for Syria as he met the leaders of a coalition opposed to president Bashar 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.

In a statement at the Foreign 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."

Mr Hague said the coalition leaders committed to reach out to all groups in Syria and to respect human rights.

"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," he said.

"So I'm encouraged by what I've heard and seen from the leaders of the coalition and I hope the discussions in London today will bring assistance to tens of thousands of people suffering in Syria."

The Foreign Secretary said he would be making a further statement in the Commons next week.

"I've discussed with the coalition this morning the question of recognition. We would like to be able at an early stage to recognise them as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people, one or two countries have already done so," he said.

"I wanted to meet them myself before the UK takes that step. We need their assurances about being inclusive of all communities, we need to see that they have genuine support within Syria.

"If we are going to take that important step of recognition we should do so in full possession of the facts and on the basis of discussions with them."

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.

Coalition president Sheikh Ahmed Mu'az Al-Khatib and vice-presidents Suheir Atassi and Riad Seif are attending the day-long London meeting, which sees officials from a raft of international nations working together to find ways of giving the group practical support.

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 today."

He added: "The purpose of this meeting is to agree ways the international community can increase political and practical support.

"We should now be able to step up our efforts considerably because of the formation of Syria's new coalition of revolutionary opposition forces."

PA

Sport
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
Life and Style
The reindeer pen at the attraction
lifeLaurence Llewelyn-Bowen's 'Magical Journey' and other winter blunderlands
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Tana Ramsay gave evidence in a legal action in which her husband, Gordon, is accusing her father, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to “forge” his signature
peopleTana Ramsay said alleged discovery was 'extremely distressing'
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Windsor and Aljaz Skorjanec rehearse their same-sex dance together on Strictly Come Dancing
TV
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Argyll Scott International: Risk Assurance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible