Syria – We Need To Be At The Negotiating Table

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): May I wish the Foreign Secretary every success in the attempt to remove chemical weapons from Syria? I am sure he will acknowledge, however, that they account for just 1% of all the casualties in this awful civil war. Will he use his influence to persuade the whole of the opposition, a significant part of which is opposed to the process now going on in the United Nations to resolve the chemical weapons issue, to come to the negotiating table, because it takes two to tango? It will be difficult enough getting Assad and the Russians and the Iranians lining up; it is essential that he use his influence to get the opposition willing to negotiate as well.

Mr Hague: I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. It is very important that the regime and the national coalition are ready to negotiate in a second Geneva conference on the basis of what was agreed at Geneva last year. A large part of the discussions that I had with the national coalition last week was that they must be ready to do that at any time, and that their own dissociation from the use of chemical weapons must be made as clear as possible. They received that message very, very strongly from me last week, and they will continue to do so.