"No option is off the table" if Assad doesn't take Syrian peace seriously - British FM
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must realize that “no option is off table” if his government fails to negotiate seriously at peace talks in Geneva, Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague was reported saying by Reuters Monday.
“We must make clear that if the regime does not negotiate seriously at the Geneva conference, no option is off the table. There remains a serious risk that the Assad regime will not negotiate seriously,” Hague told parliament.
European sanctions against Syria will expire in June 1 and Hague said the collapse of the country was moving closer each week, leading to a “regional catastrophe.”
“The case for further amendments to the arms embargo on Syria is compelling in order to increase the pressure on the regime,” he said, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that it remains crucial for the Syrian opposition to take part in the peace talks.
He asked the representatives to not set any preconditions, which according to Reuters was in reference to demands for Assad's departure.
Lavrov also reiterated Russia’s stance on Iran being involved in the talks. The two-year-old conflict has killed at least 80,000 people, according to the United Nations.
Earlier in the week, Assad welcomed the proposed peace talks, which were originally agreed by Russia and the U.S.
However, he voiced skepticism about their forecasts for success, claiming that many powers are not really looking for a solution. The Syrian President made his comments to an Argentine newspaper Clarin.
The U.S. and Russia are attempting to bring the Syrian government and the opposition to an international conference in Geneva for peace talks. The reported aim is finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
The gathering is expected to take place next month.