Last updated: 12 June, 2013

US and Britain must do more to save Syrian lives, says Hague

Britain and its allies must be “prepared to do more” to save innocent lives in Syria, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Wednesday after talks with his US counterpart John Kerry.

“The United Kingdom believes that the situation demands a strong, coordinated, and determined approach by the UK, the US, and our allies in Europe and the region,” Hague told a joint press conference.

Calling the conflict in Syria “the most urgent crisis anywhere in the world today,” Hague warned the regime of President Bashar al-Assad “seems to be preparing new assaults, endangering the lives and safety of hundreds of Syrians who are already in desperate need.”

“The scale of the regime’s repression and the human suffering that it has caused beggars belief — a campaign of murder and tyranny that they have waged for more than 800 days now. It is not only a moral outrage — it’s a grave threat to the wider region,” the British minister said.

He confirmed that he had discussed the Syrian conflict, now in its third year, with Kerry in their talks, saying the “innocent victims of war and repression” had been “at the forefront of our minds.”

But both men said they had no decisions to announce amid a growing clamor for Western nations to start arming the opposition rebels to help them fight off growing gains by Assad’s regime backed by thousands of Hezbollah militants.

Kerry insisted the goal of diplomatic efforts was to reach a political solution and transition of power that “gives the Syrian people the chance to have a new beginning where they choose their future leadership.”

“We have said that we will do everything we can, that we are able to do, to help the opposition achieve that goal and to reach a point where that can be implemented, and that’s what we trying to do,” Kerry said.

He said the US administration was meeting “to talk about various balances in this issue right now.”

Assad’s choice of weapons “challenges anybody’s standards of human behavior and we’re going to have to make judgments ourselves about how we’re going to be able to help the opposition deal with that.”

But Kerry stressed: “Nobody wins in Syria the way things are going. The people lose and Syria as a country loses.”

Hague agreed that the focus of their efforts was a political solution.

“But we will have to be prepared to do more to save lives, to pressure the Assad regime to negotiate seriously and to prevent the growth of extremism and terrorism if diplomatic efforts are going to succeed,” he warned.