'No options are off the table' over Syria, says William Hague

 

No options are off the table if Syria's ruling regime refuses to seriously engage in an international conference to broker peace in the country, Foreign Secretary William Hague said today.

Mr Hague said the conference between President Bashar Assad's regime and Syrian opposition leaders should be held as soon as possible, telling MPs it must be focused on agreeing a full transitional body to take over running the country.

He told the House of Commons that if the the regime did not engage seriously, the international community would have to look at other options.

Mr Hague said the case for the EU to amend its arms embargo, which would allow the international community to arm the rebels, was "compelling".

The Foreign Secretary said: "We have to be open to every way of strengthening moderates and saving lives rather than the current trajectory of extremism and murder.

"We have not sent arms to any side during the conflict of the Arab Spring. No decision has been made to go down this route and if we were to pursue this, it would be under the following conditions - in co-ordination with other nations, in carefully controlled circumstances and in accordance with our obligations under national and international law.

"The United Kingdom and France are strongly of the view that changes to the embargo are not separate from the diplomatic work but essential to it. We must make clear that if the regime does not negotiate seriously at the Geneva conference, no option is off the table.

"There remains a serious risk that the Assad regime will not negotiate seriously. This is the lesson of the last two years in which the regime has shown that it is prepared to countenance any level of loss of life in Syria for as long as it hopes it can win militarily.

"We also have to persuade the opposition to come to the table, recognising how difficult it is for them to enter in to negotiations with a regime that is butchering thousands of people."

Mr Hague added: "All our efforts are directed at ensuring the coming conference in Geneva has the greatest possible chance of success.

"We are entering in the coming weeks in to a period of the most diplomacy yet - to bring together permanent members of the UN Security Council, to attempt to create real negotiations and to open up the possibility of a political solution.

"The Prime Minister is fully committed personally to these efforts and the central role of the Foreign Office over the coming weeks will be to support this process. At the same time, our work to save lives, to stabilise neighbouring countries and to support the national coalition inside Syria will continue to be stepped up.

"With every week that passes, we are coming closer to the collapse of Syria and a regional catastrophe, with the lives of tens of thousands more Syrians at stake. We are determined to make every effort to end the carnage, to minimise the risk to the region and to protect the security of the United Kingdom."

Mr Hague said there was now physiological evidence from inside Syria that the nerve agent Sarin had been used.

He added: "There is a growing body of limited but persuasive information showing that the regime used, and continued to use, chemical weapons.

"We have physiological samples from inside Syria which have shown the use of Sarin, although it does not indicate the scale of that use. Our assessment is that chemical weapons use in Syria is very likely to have been by the regime. We have no evidence to date of opposition use.

"We welcome the UN investigation, which in our view must cover all credible allegations and have access to all relevant sites in Syria."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer / Developer

£12000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: New Full-time, Part-time and Fr...

Recruitment Genius: Multidrop Van Driver

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to rapid expansion, this family owned comp...

Recruitment Genius: Electrical Engineer

£26500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral