'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
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
i100
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of the late singer Whitney Houston, poses at the premiere of
people
News
people
News
The frequency with which we lie and our ability to get away with it both increase to young adulthood then decline with age, possibly because of changes that occur in the brain
scienceRoger Dobson knows the true story, from Pinocchio to Pollard
Voices
The male menopause: those affected can suffer hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, low libido, depression and an increase in body fat, among other symptoms
voicesSo the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Life and Style
health
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen