Britain says still seeking UN condemnation of Syria


Britain said it was still seeking condemnation at the United Nations of Syria’s crackdown on protests despite being rebuffed in an attempt last week.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used the army and police to try to crush weeks of pro-democracy protests that pose the boldest challenge to his family’s 41 years of rule.
“In Syria, we are mustering international diplomatic action to pressure President Assad to stop the killing and repression and to take the path of genuine reform,” British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a speech.
“I have instructed our diplomats to begin discussions with our partners at the U.N. in New York to seek UN condemnation of the situation in Syria,” he said. “And we are working this week on EU sanctions on those responsible for the violence.”

A European push for the U.N. Security Council to condemn Syria’s crackdown on the protesters was blocked last week by resistance from Russia, China and Lebanon, envoys said.

Britain, France, Germany and Portugal had been seeking a U.N. statement on Syria. A statement does not carry the same weight as a Security Council resolution.

Hague had said on Tuesday that Britain was working with its European partners on targeted sanctions on Syrian officials, including asset freezes and travel bans.

Hague said governments that opposed reform “as Libya has done and Syria, sadly, is beginning to do” were doomed to fail.

The economic challenges now facing countries such as Egypt and Tunisia would be at least as great as the effort their people had made to bring about political change, he said.

Britain would use its influence in the European Union, the United Nations, the G8 and international financial institutions to call for a “transformative new relationship” with the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, Hague said.

He urged the EU to forge a new partnership with its southern neighbours based on Europe opening its markets in return for political and economic reforms in the Middle East and North Africa.
“The EU should offer broad and deep economic integration, leading to a free-trade area and eventually a customs union, progressively covering goods, agriculture and services, as well as the improvement of conditions for investment,” he said.