Hague welcomes Syria opposition leader's declaration
on 31/01/2013 12:05:46
Mr Hague said dialogue was desirable, but added that any transitional government could not include Assad himself.
"Of course we want to see a political, a diplomatic solution in Syria," Mr Hague said on his way into a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels.
"We've always wanted to see, as we agreed in Geneva last year, a transitional government made up of members of the current regime and members of the opposition, based on mutual consent.
"And mutual consent of course means that Assad could not be part of such a transitional government."
The remarks yesterday by Moaz al-Khatib marked a departure from the opposition line, which has been categorical refusal to talk to the government.
Nevertheless, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said he was "very pessimistic" about the situation in Syria and foresaw a long civil war.
At the meeting in Brussels today, the 27 EU foreign ministers were also taking stock of developments in Mali and Egypt.
In Mali, where French and African troops are wresting control of the north from Islamist radicals, the EU has already authorised a mission to train the Malian army, in the hope that it will be able to maintain control of the territory after the international troops have left.
EU foreign ministers were expected to take the formal decision to launch the mission, which will involve about 500 people, in February. The mission, which will take place near the capital, Bamako, and avoid combat, is expected to begin on April 1.
Several ministers said they were very concerned about what they saw as a move away from democracy in Egypt, where the president, Mohammed Morsi, has imposed a 30-day state of emergency and curfew on three Suez Canal provinces hit hardest by violent protests and vowed to take even harsher measures if peace is not restored.
The foreign ministers suggested that the country might receive less aid from the EU if the trend continued.
Also, the EU's top foreign policy official said today that she is confident negotiations over Iran's nuclear programme will resume soon.
Last week, her spokesman had suggested that Iran was wilfully delaying new nuclear talks with six world powers by not agreeing to a venue and setting new preconditions for the negotiations.