World Bulletin / News Desk
British Foreign Secretary William Hague expressed he aims “to agree on a transitional government body with full executive power” at the Geneva II conference on the Syrian conflict scheduled for January 22.
Giving a statement to the United Kingdom (UK) parliament, Hague said the transitional government would be formed “by mutual consent” and to meet the “aspirations of the Syrian people."
"We will continue to intensify our efforts to reach a political settlement to save lives and to protect our own security."
"It is only through a political resolution that the conflict can be brought to an end,” he added.
In the statement, Hague reiterated the UK’s support for the Syrian opposition by saying, “We will not give up on diplomacy as a route to stopping bloodshed, nor will we waver in supporting moderate Syrian opposition.”
Noting he would continue encouraging the Syrian opposition to attend the Geneva II talks, he announced that the UK would be pledging more money to the crisis in Syria.
The UK has pledged £500 million to the help those affected by the conflict, the largest amount given by the UK to a single crisis, William Hague noted.
“We’ve given more than £20 million in support for opposition groups, civil society, human rights defenders and media activists,” he said.
He told parliament that the UK secretary for international development would attend a pledging conference in Kuwait where the UK will make a donation to a new UN appeal for $6.5 billion for Syria.
He also announced that the Royal Navy was sending HMS Montrose to the region to assist in the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons. He also said that Britain would provide specialist equipment to the Americans to help dispose of Syria’s chemical arsenal.
Lamenting at the use of barrel bombs by the Syrian regime and the obstruction of humanitarian aid to the Syrian people, Hague said, “Assad and those around him should be in no doubt that the world will hold them to account.”
He told MPs that Bashar Al Assad’s indiscriminate bombing of Aleppo was “Yet another war crime."
The Foreign Secretary told the UK parliament that they have been advocating for a direct role for women in the Geneva II negotiations.
He ended by saying that he was under “no illusions” about how difficult Geneva II would be, but said, “we’ll do everything possible to help it succeed.”
Italian FM: Ceasefire in Syria could pave way for humanitarian aid
An agreement on a ceasefire at the upcoming Geneva II conference on Syria would support negotiations and also pave the way for delivering humanitarian aid to Syrian people, Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said.
Speaking to Italian daily La Stampa after the Friends of Syria meeting in France, Bonino said that a donors conference would be held in Kuwait on Wednesday to increase financial aid for the Syrian people.
She also stated that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees would be visiting Turkey on Friday, and the Syrian National Coalition would be meeting in Istanbul the same day to discuss and decide on whether to participate in Geneva II conference.
"A ceasefire is very important because it would protect lives, and allow access to and delivery of humanitarian aid. ..... The Syrian crisis is the most dramatic and striking crisis of our time," Bonino said.
In response to a question about whether opponent groups in Syria were persuaded to attend Geneva II or not, Bonino said that they all pressured the coalition during the Friends of Syria meeting in France, and hope that they will attend. "Because otherwise, it could mean a symbolic victory for Assad. Moreover, Assad has to comply with the Paris declaration and requirements set by UN decisions through putting an end to random attacks and releasing arbitrarily detained people", Bonino said.
As for Iran's participation in Geneva II, Bonino stated that this issue is going to be discussed at the Foreign Affairs Council Meeting in Brussels on January 20.
Bonino also touched on the issue of the first batch of Syrian chemical weapons set to be destroyed at sea by US vessel Cape Ray, and said that the name of the Italian port of transfer would be made public on Thursday, referring to the as yet unnamed Mediterranean port where the chemical weapons loaded onto Scandinavian vessels at the Syrian port of Latakia will be transferred to Cape Ray to be destroyed.
Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Ahmet Uzumcu is scheduled to visit Rome on Thursday to brief the Italian Senate and House of Representatives Joint Commission of Defence and Foreign Affairs on the process of chemical weapons destruction.Last Mod: 14 Ocak 2014, 10:02