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.

'Illegitimate'

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
    0

    Comment number 489.

    The irony is the "Rebels" worst enemies isn't the government now but the extremists who are fighting for their own agenda and using any means to do it. What The FOS group hasn't or/and most likely doesn't care about is even if they overthrow Assad it'll either be Libya all over again with a weak leadership leading to more instability or Islamic extremists calling the shots.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 488.

    We in Syria have an anecdote which tells of a woman boiling pebbles to dupe her hungry children that she is cooking food for them so that they'll stop crying.The Western powers are doing the same to shut up the Syrian people.The choice is very clear: the certainty that Iran will prevaile if the regime wins or the faint possibility that extreme islamists will dominate. The latter are easy to defeat

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 487.

    486 posts, and not 1 to say that we should intervene, or the logistics involved,or those very good statesmanlike reasons why the UK simply MUST take the lead.Time for all of us to give this up,as there is no sway of opinion to tell us how wrong we are to say "No" to yet another proposed foreign war.Let us sit this one out, and say no more aid until the USA, Eurozone, Moslem World, etc.,contribute

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 486.

    "the UK is continuing to push for President Assad to stand down, but he has sought a third seven-year term in the elections"
    So who do they want to replace him the nice chaps the Americans are backing I.s.i.s I believe there called. Hague maybe talk instead of the Sunni slaughter houses butchering the minority christians. It's strange how you don't care for this potential genocide.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 485.

    It's no coincidence that the current enemies of the west represent the last resistence to the global banking cartels and therefore they must go. Covert funding and arming of terrorists resulting in regime change and if that doesn't work, send in the cruise missiles. One way or another, the sovereignty of every nation will be lost. Iraq, Libya, Syria - they all have or had public central banks.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 484.

    The only thing that's a "parody" Mr. Hague is your foreign policy.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 483.

    @461.

    The Ukraine does not have a Libyan dictator like Gadaffi or Assad or Saddam. The Ukranian people & parliament are not protesting now against their new temporary leader.

    No the protestors & instigators are simply russian agents trying the same take over tactics as in Crimea with russian troops waiting on the border.

    ISAF should now enter the Ukraine with 5-10 thousand peace keepers.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 482.

    People on hear asking why Hague is against democracy in "other countries" , I am surprised at the question as I thought everyone knew by now that politicians don't want democracy anywhere as most of them would be out of a job

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 481.

    John Kerry throwing another unverified claim of chemical weapons usage , will he again pluck some magical number (1429) out of the sky ?

    When he quoted that magic number last year he was not made to provide any evidence even though no other source claimed such a high (or accurate !) number of casualties/deaths.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 480.

    @478.

    The west (governments & most people) support democracy, not murderous dictators. Assad is a dictator, is it better for a leader to resign or destroy his whole country & hundreds of thousands of people & should the world not encourage Assad's resignation & fair UN verified elections ??

    Many people in the Ukraine wanted a new leader & democracy, not a russian puppet.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 479.

    Quote from William Hague "We are of course united in our disgust and anger at what's happening in Syria and the ruthless utter disregard for human life."

    Would that be the "rebels" who :
    1. Murdered 48 people in a blast near the Turkish border.?
    2. Shot a Times journalist in the legs and beat up him and his colleague ?

    I used the term "rebels" as it seems the BBC refuse to call them terrorists !

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 478.

    In Ukraine a democratically elected president was evicted by a howling mob, just imagine that in UK. We evict Cameron by rioting! In both Ukraine & Syria the "West" now supports illegal " take overs" by (in some cases) terrorists because it suits their anti Russian/Assad policies. Just who are the good guys here??

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 477.

    It has to be proven who has been using these chlorine & chemical weapons, Syria or the rebels ?

    On other world issues & international treaties it seems that many countries are selfishly happy to do nothing & let evil continue. Whereas some countries like many western countries who get accused of being the world's police at least try to do something to uphold international rules & can be proud.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 476.

    @453.

    The elections in Syria will be run by a dictator who has been in power for way to long, do you think they will be fair ? Or is this a case where some countries like Russia don't want fair elections because they are scared of extremists maybe being elected who won't want to be russian puppets?

    The Crimea election was full of mistakes & without proper security & checks.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 475.

    Reckon that this topic has been done to death,every argument has been raised,EXCEPT the "Whys", "Hows" ,"WHO Withs" and "Whens" of any Western Military Involvement, I think it is that anyone of that view can see no reasons,for there are no reasons, to send our Armed Forces into action, and so their silence is golden,though their eyes can see the views expressed here and elsewhere.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 474.

    Yes no one should want to rush in & be involved in wars. This Syria war is also complicated with Russia & Iran heavily involved & why should "onward christian soldiers" get involved & pay the costs & lives & get no thanks for trying to stop the war & human suffering.

    One issue is Syria using chlorine & chemical weapons against the treaty they signed & should other countries just ignore this ?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 473.

    There's 'bad guys' (using an Americanism) on both sides. Siding with one over the other is effectively subsidising terrorism.

    And why are we so arrogant to sit up way up high in our moral ivory embellished towers telling other nations what to do?

    The age of the empire is over. Time to concentrate on putting our own house in order, before involving ourselves (again) in foreign conflicts.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 472.

    I deplore the lack of leadership and moral fibre on the whole question of Syria, the world seems to just wring its hands as thousands die or are displaced. It does not bode well for the future at all. Edmund Burke wrote:
    „All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 471.

    I take it Tony Blair and Gordon Brown .Will be helping Assad .TONY.B has previous on how to get a none elected in the P.Ms Job.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 470.

    Hague is the worst foreign secretary we have ever had. He only wants to be an American poodle and suck up to Saudi Arabia for their oil.

    He just doesn't get it! The British public have said no to intervention in Syria or supporting a rabble of Saudi / US backed Islamists.

    Our politicians have learned nothing from Iraq or Afghanistan.

 

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  61.  
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  64.  
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  65.  
    10:22: Story

    David Cameron appears at 11:15 BST. In the meantime, here's our main story about his speech.

     
  66.  
    10:19: Line-up

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  67.  
    @TheGreenParty 10:17: The Green Party

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    The Green Party slogan
     
  68.  
    10:11: Newspaper round-up The Guardian

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  69.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk 10:08: Get involved

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  70.  
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  71.  
    @iainmartin1 10:06: Iain Martin, Journalist

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  72.  
    10:00: Air strikes

    As Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon prepare to address the conference a little later, the Ministry of Defence has announced that RAF jets fired four missiles at Islamic State (IS) vehicles in Iraq overnight. The MoD says the strikes - aimed at an armed pick-up truck and a transport vehicle west of the Iraqi capital Baghdad - were "successful". Parliament approved UK military action against IS in Iraq last Friday.

     
  73.  
    09:59: Newspaper round-up The Daily Mail

    Quentin Letts, at the Daily Mail, sketches yesterday's "duel of two would-be leaders". Theresa May, "fervid and Thatcherish", gave the "speech that deserves to be remembered". The home secretary attacked Islamist extremism from a "defiantly centrist position", quoting the Koran and opening with a condemnation of racial bias in the exercise of police stop-and-search powers, perhaps seeing that "there are votes in centrism", he adds. Boris Johnson, meanwhile, was "full of jokes", entertaining the Tory faithful but "the closing passages of the speech - the serious bits - sagged".

     
  74.  
    09:58: Carswell not bitter

    Douglas Carswell, the former Conservative MP who has defected to UKIP, has some fond words for Tory chairman Grant Shapps. Writing on his blog, Mr Carswell says: "I like him, and I've made no secret of my admiration of him in the past. If he has had to say some fairly strong things as Conservative Party chairman over the past few days, he is doing it because he is Conservative Party chairman. I know Grant is a thoroughly decent person and have always enjoyed his company. I might have changed parties, but I'm not going start pretending that everyone that wears a blue rosette is bad. Grant is one of the good guys." Mr Carswell also says he gave up going to Conservative conferences long ago, because: "There never seemed to be many Conservatives. The lobbyists outnumber the activists. The fringe debates seemed so sterile."

    Douglas Carswell
     
  75.  
    @Freeman_George 09:50: George Freeman, Conservative MP

    tweets: As JeremyHunt said ystdy: unlocking potential of #NHS R+D in Genetics+DiseaseData is DNA of NHS: pooling our resources to prevent disease.

     
  76.  
    09:45: BBC website reader responds to MP's tweet

    Richard Heath responds to Andy Burnham, Labour MP's tweet at 09:16: Is he honestly trying to accuse the TORIES of making promises without saying where the money is going to come from? Did he not see any of the speeches by Balls and Miliband?

     
  77.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk 09:45: Get involved

    Bob, Cambridge: It never ceases to amaze me when the general election is close by how the Tories send out sweeteners to get voters to stay. No chance Mr Cameron we all know what your party is about and always has been and that is to persecute the poor for the mistakes of the rich.

     
  78.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk 09:41: Get involved

    Henry Francis Naudi in London: Whatever the main political parties may say about the NHS and their determination to improve it, the fact of the matter is that the main reasons for a 'distressed' NHS are (1) massive wastage in bureaucracy and admin; and (2) leeching of the NHS by people who are either not entitled to it for free or who manage to get round it by not paying their dues.

     
  79.  
    09:36: Joe Shute, for The Telegraph

    writes: David Cameron: Can he draw a line under his month to forget? Ahead of his Conservative Party conference curtain call, the prime minister has endured the most painful of Septembers. Read more

     
  80.  
    09:30: What channel? Dave, maybe?

    A bizarre scene as David Cameron prepares his speech apparently watched by... himself.

    David Cameron
     
  81.  
    @_James_Lyons_ 09:26: James Lyons, Daily Mirror Deputy Political Editor

    tweets: All sorts of rumours about another defection at #CPC14

     
  82.  
    Email: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk 09:25: Get involved

    Colin in Gloucestershire: If we really want to keep the health service as it is people MUST take responsibility for themselves. Smoking and use of other drugs maybe your 'god given' right but it should not be the responsibility of the rest of the community to pay for the consequences. Even if Cameron can deliver on this promise, which will only come about by painful cuts elsewhere, that will only delay the day that society will no longer be willing to support people unwilling to take responsibility for themselves.

     
  83.  
    @BBCNormanS 09:23: Norman Smith, BBC

    tweets: Tory sources accuse @ukip of trying to make a somebody out of a nobody over Arron Banks defection #cpc14

     
  84.  
    09:18: Coming up at conference

    So, what else is happening at conference today? Business kicks off at the usual start of 10:30 BST - and will focus on international development, defence and foreign affairs. There'll be speeches from the secretaries of states for each respective government department - Justine Greening, Michael Fallon and Philip Hammond.

     
  85.  
    Tweet: @BBCPolitics 09:17: Get involved

    @thisisamy_ tweets: So ukip, 'the anti-establishment, people's party' attracts another millionaire donor. Yup, they're definitely on your side.

     
  86.  
    @andyburnhammp 09:16: Andy Burnham, Labour MP

    tweets: NHS facing huge funding pressures in 2015-20 Parliament. It is just not credible for Tories to make new promises without finding new money.

     
  87.  
    @matthancockmp 09:16: Matt Hancock, Conservative MP

    tweets: Delighted to see the £600m MoD contract for maintaining the Royal Navy go to Portsmouth - supporting 2000 local jobs #Portsmouth #jobs

     
  88.  
    09:15: Defence announcements

    In other news, the Ministry of Defence has announced it has awarded £3.2bn of contracts to support the management of the UK's naval bases, securing about 7,500 jobs. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon is due to make a speech to conference later this morning, so it's likely he'll make reference to this.

     
  89.  
    @Nigel_Farage 09:14: Nigel Farage, @UKIP Leader

    tweets: Arron Banks recognises that it is the European Union that is holding Britain and her businesses back. See blog post

     
  90.  
    09:13: Prop developer

    During his speech on Tuesday, London Mayor Boris Johnson wielded a brick to demonstrate his determination to get more homes built. Will David Cameron do something similar?

    Boris Johnson
     
  91.  
    09:12: Tory donor joins UKIP

    UKIP continues to cast a shadow over Conservative conference this week. One of the Tories' long-time donors is to announce later that he is joining Nigel Farage's party. Insurance entrepreneur Arron Banks has given the Conservatives more than £250,000 since David Cameron became leader - but will today present rivals UKIP with a £100,000 check. Mr Bank has also indicated he would like to stand as a candidate. The move comes after two Conservative MPs defected to UKIP - one as recently as Saturday, on the eve of Tory conference.

     
  92.  
    @Mike_Fabricant 09:10: Michael Fabricant, Conservative MP

    tweets: Another sunny day in Brum for #CPC14. An omen? See photo

     
  93.  
    09:08: Happy talk?

    David Cameron is expected to use his speech to show voters his party has more to offer them than austerity, and that with five more years the Conservatives, under his leadership, can improve people's lives.

     
  94.  
    09:06: Where is he?

    Samantha Cameron is in Birmingham to offer her husband support as he speaks later. Before that there's the obligatory walkabout.

    Samantha Cameron
     
  95.  
    09:05: More on the NHS

    The promise to protect NHS funding from departmental spending cuts is a repeat of the policy on which David Cameron fought the 2010 general election. Mr Cameron will say that a strong NHS is only made possible by a strong economy.

     
  96.  
    09:03: Midnight oil

    David Cameron has been working overnight on his speech. We are told he will deliver it using a script, rather than performing an attempted elephantine memory trick. This follows ridicule of Ed Miliband when he forgot a couple of passages of his address to the Labour conference last week.

    David Cameron
     
  97.  
    09:02: NHS spending pledge

    It is being reported that David Cameron will use his speech to pledge a yearly real-terms increase in NHS spending over the course of the next five-year Parliament, if his party secures victory at the election.

     
  98.  
    09:00: Good morning

    Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the final day of the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham. The day will culminate in the highlight of any party conference: the leader's speech. David Cameron will address party activists at 11.15 BST, in what will be his final conference speech before the general election.

     

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