Hague hints at harder line if regime shuns Syria peace plan (INDEPENDENT UK) KIM SENGUPTA BRUSSELS 04/20/12)
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Foreign Secretary says UN resolution may allow ´further measures´ if
Assad ignores ceasefire
Bashar al-Assad´s regime is flouting the Kofi Annan plan for ending
the violence in Syria and punitive action can be taken if it is in
breach of the United Nations resolution on the crisis, William Hague
declared yesterday amid rising calls for intervention in the country.
As an international meeting of the "Friends of Syria" states took
place in Paris, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accused the regime,
which yesterday agreed a deal outlining rules for the deployment of
observers to monitor Mr Annan´s ceasefire plan, of failing to show it
was committed to peace. He also called for an expanded mission of at
least 300 observers – 50 more than the regime has said it will
accept – to monitor violations of the ceasefire. Only a small advance
team of observers is currently in the country.
At the same time, the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, claimed that
a humanitarian corridor was now imperative. He accused President
Assad of "lying shamelessly" and "trying to wipe Homs off the map
just like Gaddafi wanted to raze Benghazi from the map".
Speaking at a Nato meeting in Brussels, Mr Hague said that "for the
first time in 15 months we have a security resolution that sets out
what they need to do to implement the Annan plan, which includes a
real ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons from
"So if they [the regime] are in breach of that resolution, the UN
Security Council is entitled to consider what further measures can be
taken. I don´t want at this stage to speculate about those measures
but we and many others would want to return to this very vigorously,"
Russia and China have refused to back repeated attempts to involve
the UN in the Syrian uprising, pointing out that a resolution on
Libya to establish a no-fly zone and protect civilians was used to
mount an air campaign which ensured regime change. However, Moscow
and Beijing did vote for Security Council resolution 2042 putting the
peace plan brokered by Mr Annan into effect.
The UK will "intensify" support for the Syrian opposition and provide
an additional £4m in aid for refugees. A UN-sponsored survey by the
Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre found that the
numbers of civilians uprooted since the uprising began had risen to
Mr Hague pointed out the dire humanitarian situation and said he had
asked the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, to press President
Assad to end hostilities. He continued: "Russia did help last week to
put pressure on the Assad regime to ostensibly accept the Annan plan,
to accept a ceasefire. And that is why we look to Russia to continue
to be helpful in saying to the Assad regime, ´look if this breaks
down, the whole world will be able to see who´s responsible´."
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Nato Secretary-General, has maintained
during this summit that Nato does not want to get involved in Syria,
particularly as there is no legal mandate to do so. However, the
crisis has been discussed by delegates. The US Secretary of State,
Hillary Clinton, said the US had been sending a significant amount of
non-lethal supplies, including communications equipment.
Mr Lavrov, speaking at the Nato conference, accused the West of
turning a blind eye to attacks by rebels, while pillorying the
regime. "There are armed groups which are being supplied with weapons
by outside countries, there have been terrorist bombings in Damascus
and Aleppo. But we are supposed to believe that all that is happening
is the Syrian government [is] using tanks to shoot down
demonstrators," he said.
He claimed that the "so-called ´Friends of Syria´" group – which
includes the US and Britain – was being "unhelpful" in promoting the
peace process, saying that its uncritical support was encouraging the
opposition not to compromise.
"It is up to everyone to help the Kofi Annan plan," he said.
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