British Foreign Secretary William Hague 390 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi)
LONDON – Britain has officially recognized the Syrian National Council as “a
legitimate representative” of the Syrian people as Foreign Secretary William
Hague stepped up the rhetoric by referring to Bashar Assad’s rule as a “criminal
Speaking at the Friends of Syria meeting in Tunisia on Friday,
Hague said the UK would “intensify” its links with the council, Syria’s largest
Hague recognized that there were other Syrian
opposition groups and that the SNC was not in control, but said the UK was
encouraging the council to bring together as many of the opposition groups as
“This is therefore a different situation than that we faced in
Libya last year,” he said in regard to the SNC’s position.
“But I do
believe they are making progress. I do believe they justify our intensified
support, and that’s why we are working with them.”
Hague added that he
had offered the “political opposition outside Syria additional, practical
The foreign secretary also spoke about the bombardment of the
Syrian city of Homs and the “terrible crimes” committed by Assad.
think we have seen enough in the last few weeks to know that the Assad regime
will go down in history as a criminal regime,” he said.
“The UK will
continue our work to help document the crimes that are taking place so that one
day those responsible for them will have to answer for their
Hague said that further sanctions would be placed on Syria when
the EU meets in Brussels on Monday, but also hoped non-European countries would
step up their sanctions against the Assad regime and tighten the diplomatic and
He also said it was crucial that humanitarian work
be coordinated more effectively.
“We are already sending food rations and
other emergency supplies to people affected by the conflict,” he said. “Better
international coordination of that and readiness to supply more humanitarian
supplies whenever a cessation of violence can be brought about is something we
now need to prepare for.”
Some 70 countries, including the US, UK and
France, attended the Tunis conference, which was organized by the Arab
Both Russia and China, which vetoed a UN Security Council
resolution against Syria, refused to attend the conference.
the two countries, Hague said: “Our efforts so far in the Security Council to
agree a resolution based on the Arab League plan which involved a cessation of
violence have been frustrated by Russia and China. And I hope those countries
will take note of this strength of international feeling and support that we’re
seeing here in Tunisia, with more than 60 countries coming together, because it
means that they are increasingly isolated in their view.”
He added that
he hoped they would change their position.
“I think when one looks at
things like the report yesterday pointing to crimes against humanity and a
continued deterioration in the situation and Syria sliding towards greater chaos
and bloodshed, it’s very important for Moscow and Beijing to a re-evaluate their