Syria

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): Surely the right hon. Gentleman accepts that his remorseless drive towards British military intervention through supplying arms—because that is what it is—will make the civil war even worse. Having said that, I welcome his commitment to a negotiated solution, although the only way it has a chance of succeeding is by not maintaining the precondition that Assad must go. Of course we all want to see an end to his barbarous rule, but so long as the precondition that he must go is maintained, the conference will never get off the ground.

Mr Hague: If is of course our opinion—I suspect it is the opinion of everyone in the House—that Assad should go, but we are not producing any new precondition for the conference or recommending that anybody else should do so. Our starting point for the conference is the outcome of last year’s Geneva conference, which agreed that there should be a transitional Government with full Executive powers formed by mutual consent—that the regime and opposition should each be content with those forming that transitional Government. It would be wrong to retreat from what was agreed last year—that is the only basis for peace and democracy in Syria—and we are not adding any further precondition to that.