Syrian oppo leaders hold talks with Kerry, G8 ministers in UK

London, April 10: Syrian Opposition leaders on Wednesday met US Secretary of State John Kerry and G8 foreign ministers in London to seek a "political" breakthrough of the country's civil unrest on the sidelines of an official G8 ministerial meet with North Korean nuclear crisis and Iran high on the agenda.

At the discussion with the G8 ministers, Syrian opposition prime Minister Ghassan Hitto and Syrian National Coalition vice-presidents George Sabra and Soheir Atassi and other civilian leaders pushed for lifting an arms embargo on Syria to topple the President Bashar al-Assad regime.

"I will be joining and convening some of those meetings to discuss the urgent humanitarian needs and the urgent need for a political and diplomatic breakthrough," British foreign secretary William Hague told reporters in reference to the meeting.

"This (Syria) is turning into the greatest humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st century so far and we cannot watch this happen," he added.

Syria slipped into its third year of the devastating civil war this year as the rebels have been waging an uprising to oust Assad in which an estimated 70,000 people said to have been killed and millions forced to flee their honmes.

Syria's Opposition umbrella group the National Coalition is recognised by the US and UK and many other Western and Arab countries as the sole representative of the Syrian people.

The Syrian Opposition was formally granted an Arab League seat last month.

The ongoing civil unrest in the country is at the top of the agenda of the two-day foreign minister's meeting from today being hosted by the UK in the run-up to the official summit of the Group of Eight nations-Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland in June.

In keeping with the London meet's central theme of conflict prevention and resolution, Kerry is also set to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in a bid to persuade Moscow, a key ally of Damascus, to help break the international stalemate on the conflict.

The US and EU are currently providing non-lethal aid, such as communications equipment, and are beginning to distribute food and medical supplies to the Free Syrian Army.

There has been no consensus over the issue of arming the Opposition as a result of fears that the weapons could get into the hands of terrorists.

A European Union arms embargo on Syria is set to expire at the end of May and its renewal will require a wide consensus on the issue.

Hague confirmed at a pre-meet briefing in the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) here yesterday that Britain and France would continue to push for the lifting of the arms embargo.

Iran, Syria's main ally, will also loom large at the G8 talks after nuclear negotiations between Tehran and world powers ended in deadlock at the weekend.

The tensions over North Korea would also be a key topic, with Pyongyang's April 10 deadline over the safety of foreign embassies now running out.

Hague stressed that his "personal priority" for the meeting was a new agreement and international protocol to prevent sexual violence in conflicts.

"Many countries are suffering these horrific attacks, including Sri Lanka and India. At a domestic level, all governments are expected to do their best to combat such crimes. Our aim is to draw up an international protocol and build an international coalition on the issue of sexual violence as a weapon of war," he said.

Other topics of discussions at the ministerial talks are expected to include encouraging international financial institutions to re-engage with Somalia and Iran and the Middle East peace process.

Burma and the Deauville Partnership with Arab Countries in Transition have also been named as key issues to be addressed.

Posted by Unknown on 04:04. Filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0

0 comments for Syrian oppo leaders hold talks with Kerry, G8 ministers in UK

Leave comment


Courtesy:ISTV Imphal


2010 BlogNews Magazine. All Rights Reserved. - Designed by SimplexDesign