Britain's Cameron to Push G-20 for Syria Solution

Tuesday, 03 Sep 2013 09:46 AM


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LONDON — David Cameron will push Russia and others to back a diplomatic solution to the Syria conflict at the G-20 in Saint Petersburg this week, including a tougher U.N. response, the British prime minister's spokesman said Tuesday.

Cameron last week lost a parliamentary vote on joining U.S.-led military action against Bashar Assad's regime over alleged chemical weapons use, and the government says it has no plans to bring the issue back before lawmakers.

His official spokesman said Cameron still wanted a "robust" response to an alleged chemical attack which killed hundreds of people on August 21, but that he would press Assad's ally Russia to support diplomatic efforts.

Cameron set out his aims for the G-20, including on the Syria crisis, during a meeting of the cabinet on Tuesday, his spokesman said.

"One of the points the prime minister was noting was the importance of maintaining the engagement around bringing an end to this conflict," the spokesman told a daily media briefing.

"It is no secret that a number of countries do not share our approach in a number of key respects," the spokesman said when asked if Cameron would push Russian President Vladimir Putin on the issue. "But that does not mean that we do not keep working with them and others.

"The outcome of the parliament is that there is not going to be British military intervention as part of that response, but part of that response is also diplomatic and political and through a number of international bodies, the U.N. and the like," he added.

The spokesman said there was no timetable yet for possible bilateral talks with Putin in Saint Petersburg.

The spokesman also dismissed reports of a split in the Cabinet, after the defense minister and a junior minister appeared to leave the door open for a second vote on military action if circumstances change "significantly."

"The government has said there are absolutely no plans to return to the house," he said, referring to parliament's lower chamber, the House of Commons.

Asked what Britain's aims were at the G-20 in terms of the Syria conflict, the spokesman said: "Firstly trying to ensure that there is as robust an approach as possible to the use of chemical weapons.It is also about seeking to continue the diplomatic efforts for this objective to political transition."

Foreign Secretary William Hague said he would hold talks in London on Thursday with the president of the Syrian opposition National Coalition, Ahmad al-Jarba.

© AFP 2014

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