First Published: 2012-11-07


British PM: Assads exit could be arranged


Cameron says he would agree safe exit for Syrian President, favour him facing justice for what hes done.


Middle East Online

How can we put the pressure on Assad?

DUBAI - British Prime Minister David Cameron said he would support granting President Bashar al-Assad a safe passage out of Syria to end the nation's bloodshed, in a television interview Tuesday.

Asked what he would say if Assad requested a safe exit, Cameron told Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV: "Done. Anything, anything to get that man out of the country and to have a safe transition in Syria."

"Of course, I would favour him facing the full force of international law and justice for what he's done," he said, according to a transcript of the interview made available to the press.

"I am certainly not offering him an exit plan to Britain but if he wants to leave, he could leave, that could be arranged," he added.

On a tour of the Middle East, Cameron arrived in Jordan on Tuesday night for talks with King Abdullah II on Wednesday.

"I am very frustrated that we can't do more," Cameron said, as he concluded a two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates.

"This is an appalling slaughter that is taking place in our world today -- 40,000 lives lost already and you can see, on your television screens, night after night, helicopters, airplanes belonging to the Assad regime pounding his own country and murdering his own people," he said.

Cameron's official spokesman in London said the premier was reiterating London's position that Assad should face justice, but that the priority is for a transition in the war-torn country.

"He (Cameron) is reiterating our position which is that we want Assad to face the full force of international law for what he has done but our top priority is to see a transition in that country," the spokesman said.

"That transition cannot happen while Assad is in place and therefore we need him to go," he added.

In the interview, Cameron highlighted the need to help the opposition, without elaborating how.

"We must ask ourselves what more can we do: how can we help the opposition? How can we put the pressure on Assad? How can we work with partners in the region to turn this around?" Cameron said.

But when asked about arming the rebels, he said: "We are not currently planning to do that. We are a government under international law and we obey the law."

"My fear is, firstly, that the slaughter will continue, that the loss of life will continue. That should be our number one concern."

He said that Britain had provided aid to Syrian refugees worth 39 million ($62.3 million).

In August, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain would give Syria's rebels 5 million ($8 million) in assistance, including body armour and communications equipment, to use in their fight against Assad's forces.

Hague said at the time that weapons would not be provided but that Britain would step up contacts with opposition groups to lay the ground for a political


The Syrian National Council umbrella opposition group is holding intensive talks in Qatar to broaden its membership to include other opposition factions as Washington mounted pressure for a wider representative body.


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