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Britain reaches out to armed Syrian groups

Nov. 7, 2012 at 11:03 AM   |   Comments

LONDON, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- The British government announced Wednesday that it was open to direct contact with military figures from the Syrian opposition movement.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week called for an overhaul of the Syrian opposition, saying the exiled Syrian National Council, a main umbrella group, had outlived its usefulness.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague told lawmakers Wednesday he's authorized his staff to have direct contact with military figures from the armed opposition movement in Syria.

"This will help us to understand better the situation in Syria and the relationship between political and armed opposition groups so we can properly support political transition," he explained.

Hague said any support for armed groups would take place in compliance with arms embargoes placed on Syria. All contacts, he added, would take place outside of Syria in places deemed secure by the British government.

"The decision to engage with military representatives of the armed opposition in a political dialogue supports our efforts to achieve a peaceful and sustained political solution to the crisis," he said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Jeffrey Feltman, a former U.S. State Department official serving as the U.N. undersecretary-general for political affairs, told U.N. Security Council the focus in Syria should be centered on political, not military, developments.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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