UK's William Hague attacks Assad's Syria elections plan


William Hague read out an agreed statement in which the Friends of Syria vowed further help for Syria's opposition

Presidential elections in Syria will be a "parody of democracy", UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has said.

Mr Hague said Syria's government had an "utter disregard" for life, and President Bashar al-Assad decision to call an election for 3 June "disgusted" the international community.

The foreign secretary also announced the Syrian opposition would have its diplomatic status in the UK upgraded.

Syria's three-year conflict has left some 150,000 people dead.

The UK is continuing to push for President Assad to stand down, but he has sought a third seven-year term in the elections.


Mr Hague hosted a meeting of the The Friends of Syria group - made up of Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the US - in London.

Afterwards, he said: "We are of course united in our disgust and anger at what's happening in Syria and the ruthless utter disregard for human life."

The group agreed a short communique criticising the decision to hold an election at a time when millions of people were displaced and the bloodshed was continuing.

Mr Hague called on the whole international community to "reject these illegitimate elections", saying: "We've also agreed unanimously to take further steps to... do everything we can to hold the Assad regime accountable for the terror it is perpetrating."

He promised the UK government would increase its humanitarian efforts, with £30m of extra funding.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said this money would be used for "a range of different things including helping the opposition and supporting regional sustainability".

In a separate media briefing, US Secretary of State John Kerry commented on France's claim that the Assad government has used chemical weapons at least 14 times since October.

He said he had seen "raw data that suggests that there may have been... a number of instances in which chlorine has been used in the conduct of war".

Mr Kerry added: "If it has, and it could be proven, then that would be against the agreements of the chemical weapons treaty and against the weapons convention that Syria has signed up to."

"Out of today's meeting, every facet of what can be done is going to be ramped up - every facet. That includes political effort. It includes aid to the opposition. It includes economic efforts, sanctions," he said.

Friends of Syria was set up in 2012 in response to moves by Russia and China to block UN resolutions against the Assad government.

The meeting comes days after UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi stepped down over lack of progress in ending the crisis.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Might I suggest that if there had been no outside support for the jihadists then Assad would have sorted things out by now. Seems we don't like strong leaders like Saddam, Gadaffi or Assad so we applaud their removal. Could it be that these countries needed firm (oppressive) control to stop them descending into the chaos we see now. Bad idea to offer advice/help in societies you don't understand

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Maybe it's time to take off the kid gloves, and tell these Islamic Extremists (i.e. Terrorists) to stop hiding behind their religion. If they really want to be 'religious' they (Islamic people) believe that ALL life is sacred... try telling that to the terrorists!

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    1.Essex Serpent

    The point of this meeting is that Russia/China are excluded

    I foresee tit-for-tat.

    The agenda is changing, it is not just about Syria & Islamists, Russian nationalism & expansionism is an extra ingredient

    What Russia gains in Crimea & east Ukraine, it will lose in Syria

    Public statements will be about "humanitarian help"

    Whats said behind closed doors = !?

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Before the Assads Syria was a wonderful and friendly place - after them it will no longer be worth visiting - the syrians did not deserve this

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Weren't the 'Friends of Syria' group the same unprovoked group who wanted to bomb Syria?

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    More time wasting, and grandstanding.

    It is nothing to do with us. It is a civil war just leave them alone, stop backing the terrorists.

    By all means help the neighbours, to seal their borders and keep all Syrians inside their land, to take sides and part in their country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Sorry, let me get this straight:
    In Ukraine we offer a strong support (possibly arms or training, if not now than eventually) to the government in their war against the rebels, right?
    But in Syria we strongly support the rebels against the government - on what basis exactly, both??

    The only logic I see is that "we always support the side that's against Russia" - are we back to old geopolitik?

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Where have you reported the trouncing of the false pretext Ghouta incident? Or the direct recording of US ally Turkish FM plannng a false flag attack to allow full scale war which resulted twitter being banned? 'Democracy' is a word BBC only uses for US/UK/Is/NATO interests. Pullitzer REAL journalist spills some lies here:

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    What about the muslims in:
    Abu Dhabi

    All very wealthy Muslim nations, yet non willing to help?
    Not very nice people are they

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Is it just me or does John Kerry look like something off a horror film?

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    So let me get this straight. America is pushing for freedom & democracy in Syria by arming the islamic jihardist who America has been fighting against for the last 10 years because they are a direct threat to american freedom & democracy?

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Should be a very brief meeting for the UK delegate, "nothing to do with us, goodbye".

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.


    "Muslims convert others to islam, saying they stick together, look after each other.

    Then why wont the billionaire muslims in the middle east help their fellow muslims in Syria?"

    The saudis are hypocrites, liars and only after wealth for which they have sold their own souls. These people have destroyed Islamic heritage in Arabia.

    They should not be called Muslims !

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    So just as Assad starts to force the so called 'rebels' to retreat, the US want to fund these monsters to kill and bomb Syria. The day the US economy collapses under its record mountain of debt is the day we can begin to see some actual peace in the world. I don't think the worlds people will allow another world war. As the next one will likely involve nuclear warfare. Warmongering US, snakes!

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    "Foreign ministers from 11 Western and Arab nations are due to meet in London to discuss new ways of supporting the Syrian opposition."

    In other words, ways of supporting Al Qaeda and other extremist Islamic groups. Forget Syria, let the Arab league sort Syria out. I personally do not want my nation supporting either side in the Syrian conflict as both are meglomaniacs and ultimatly antiwest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    I wonder how long this East v West battle will go on for.

    How naive I was to think we had moved past this cold war BS!

    I suppose conflicts now are fought economically, still its normal people who suffer and die as we see now.

    I would like to have some hope but the lines between 'good guys' and 'bad guys' are more blurred than ever!

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Question – Do Cameron, Gove et al still want to bomb Syria? Are we pretending they weren’t clamouring to do that now?

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Can you stop addressing them as 'rebel forces'.

    The term is terrorists , and we have members of the UK supporting this and travelling to be martys

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    The BBC once again true to form painting a wholly one-sided US/UK/NATO picture, "We are the good guys". For BBC 'democracy' does not include the vast majority of Syrians supporting Assad and seeking protection from ethnic-cleansing foreign jihadis armed and funded by US and allies to topple him at any cost.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    The Syrian opposition have ethnically cleaned the ancient Christian communities, including, for example, in Homs.


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