tv [untitled] February 10, 2012 2:00pm-2:30pm EST
possible international coalition. we are not calling for military action or intervention. so i think he can be reassured and be supportive as he was in the first part of his questioning. >> can i applaud the secretary in the way he's handling these issues. can he tell us what he thinks it is that animates the chinese government to support these butchers? >> this is an intriguing question. as far as we can see and at the security council negotiations as of friday last week, china had no objection that could be easily justified to the draft resolution. when it came to the vote, the chinese permanent representative
was surrounded by arab representatives urging him therefore to vote for the resolution. as it turned out, however, evidently, his instructions were to vote to veto the resolution with russia. i think that is a mistake on the part of china. we have a regular and full strategic dialogue with china on regular occasions and i will certainly pursue this vigorously in the next strategic hour. i don't think that's in the interest of china nor i do think it is living up to the full responsibilities of permanent membership. >> the foreign secretary talked about the importance of turkey in all of this. i wonder, in his discussion with the foreign secretary of turkey, whether there was any talk about setting up the syrian opposition
believe asked for and that is safe havens near the turkish border. >> this is an appealing idea. but then one has to consider how safe havens would be created. and indeed how they would then be policed. i think we know from experience in the 1990s and the balkans that the notion of safe havens that although they're not really safe is one of the worst things that you can create. and the creation of true safe haven inside syrian territory would require military intervention in syria. and that's something that is not authorized by the u.n. security council and that would require a massive military operation.
>> the actions are evil and the russians and chinese are he would -- woeful, some did warn during the libyan intervention that we were in danger of playing into their hands and provide them with an alibi because we doesn't stick strictly to humanitarian action. not when we were pursuing it in the last hours of his life before he was executed by our allies. where we go from here, the fact is that the chinese are impervious to grandstanding. in term this prohibits any repetition of the kind of action that took place in libya. >> i disagree. i don't think what happens in
libya provides an alibi. after all, a country is on the security council such as india that did not vote for the resolution in 1973 on libya or south africa that did vote for it but then were very critical of the implementation who were perfectly happy to vote on saturday for this resolution. it's entirely different. these are different circumstances. so i don't think that is an adequate defense by russia and kline. he said i was quiet in diplomacy. we will do so continuing to seek agreement at the u.n. security council and we will be very busy with that over the coming days and weeks. >> currently -- >> the first arab country to be lib rated from their spot in the
arab spring is expelling its syrian ambassador and recognizing the outside regime. the syrian national council called on other countries to follow suit s that something that the british government will be considering. >> as i mentioned earlier, i don't rule that out. i would -- if we were to do that, i would like to act in concert with other nations. what other nation dozen is a factor. >> having had a very dear friend and his 5-year-old son butchered by the regime in the days when they controlled lebanon, could i both commend everything my honorable friend is doing in this but also urge him to take a particular interest in what is going on in that country with
the regime continuing to try to destabilize both through its own proxies and through iranian ones like his brother and amal? >> yes, absolutely. we always take a close interest in what is happening in lebanon and syria has indeed greatly over the time been a maligned influence in events in lebanon. and additionally, events in lebanon or what may happen in the future in lebanon are an important consideration in how we hand this will crisis in syria. it is one reason it is quite different, for instance, from the libya crisis. so my friend is quite right to point to the horrors of what happened before and i'm very conscious of the point he makes. >> mr. mike gapes? >> can i endorse the secretary's remarks about saying action through the european union and u.n. general assembly, human rights council and with his friends of syria group? but one organization that he didn't mention was nato.
is it not time to have a discussion in the northatlantic counsel including turkey about whether we could have some kind of no fly zone comparable to what happened to the kurds 11 years ago over the northern part of syria? >> i don't think it is, mr. speaker. first of all, because i think if nato began planning for different eventualities in syria, that would weaken rather than unite the international coalition. also, a no-fly zone would require authorization from the u.n. security council which clearly would not obtain at the moment and in addition, although there are reports of syrian aircraft involved and the latest events, this is not the prime means of repression. and so there is a danger that a no fly zone, although it's an easy thing to call for, would give the illusion of security when the prime means of
repression of the civilian population is by tanks and troops on the ground. >> sir bob russell. >> i welcome the foreign secretary's warm words about the countries of the arab league. with the eyes of the world on syria, will a foreign secretary give me his personal assurance that he will not close his eyes to what is happening next door in israel? >> mr. speaker, my noble friend knows we have discussed in the house many times the position on this it may get a little wide of this statement. but, of course, we have condemned violence and they occupied territories and indeed the expansion of settlements in the occupied territories which are illegal and on occupied land. >> we're grateful for the secretary for dealing with that point. perhaps we now can keep the statement, exchanges to the subject matter.
and the honorable gentleman is now a knight but we must stick to what is right. and that is the content of the statement. >> what is the foreign secretary's assessment of the prospects for russia agreeing to impose an arms embargo on syria given russia remains one of the principal arms suppliers? >> well, there isn't much prospect. at the moment russia agreeing to an arms embargo, russia continues to sell arms to the regime. russia has many close interests, allied to those of the assad regime. a naval base and they are an important customer. there has been an important customer for russian arms. this is no doubt one of the factors. the prospect of the comment is very small. >> sir roger gale?
>> do you have any suggestion that russia's failure to support human rights in syria might be construed by some as incompatible with russia's own membership of the council of europe? >> well, i will give consideration to all the points that are being raised at russia. i think that is the best thing for me to say. i will make sure that the will be understood anyway. my first preference in how we're going o conduct our discussions with russia now is for me to do so directly with the russian foreign minister. as well as any contact with the ambassador that we may have. >> all the action of russia and china is completely inexcusable and no one in this house has tried to defend it or justify it
in any way, can i take the foreign secretary to speak to the point made earlier? is he aware that the resolution on libya which was, of course, brought forward to stop this was so extended to bring about the regime change that inevitably it has played right into the hands of russia and china who have done what they have done in vetoing the u.n. security resolutions and, of course, both countries have a pretty poor record when it comes to human rights. >> i think if i remember rightly the honorable gentleman voted the end for our action in libya. yes, he did. and so we're united in agreeing with that resolution. and i don't think it provides an excuse for russia and china for the reasons i gave earlier to my
honorable friend. >> mr. mark pritchard? >> notwithstanding the earlier comments on the international criminal court, if there is a subsequent u.n. resolution on referring president assad and his regime to the u.n. and to the icc, does he agree that the timing of that is very important? many dictators we know if they have nothing to lose, nowhere to run, they're likely to dig in and the atrocities are more than perhaps they would have been and the timing is absolutely critical. >> yes, that is certainly my honorable friend makes a very valid point. it is not possible at the moment to refer this to the prosecutor of the icc. but i do think that the longer this goes on and the greater the atrocities that are committed, the more determined the world will be to find a way to bring
to account and bring to justice those responsible. and that should weigh heavily on those would are now participating in the atrocities of this regime. >> will the secretary of state be able to update the house on the safety of british citizens in syria? >> mr. speaker, for a long time, we have served the british nationals should not travel to syria and that those there should leave. we now said that for many, many months. we've also made clear when we reduced the staff of our embassy some weeks ago to the minimum level possible to maintain the embassy, that that level of staff is now which we could conduct an evacuation of any remaining british nationals. so we have made the position on. and there should not be british nationals now in syria. of course, there will be some who are duel nationals or who are married to people in syria
who have remained. and, of course, whenever they are in difficult circumstances, we will do our best to assist them. we have made the position starkly clear. >> bob stewart. >> thank you, mr. speaker. having sat in the middle of the so-called protected area which was totally unprotected, can i re-emphasize to the house something the foreign secretary's already said. and that is any protected area requires to have people on the ground with the ability to keep it protected. and if this talk of protected area continues, we will actually have to think how that can be done. at the moment, it certainly cannot be done by the british. >> my honorable friend speaks with deep experience of these matters. and certainly any discussion in the future of safe havens or humanitarian corridors must be
accompanied by the will and the authority and the full means to make sure that they truly would be safe and humanitarian rather than leaving people in a very, very difficult situation. >> thank you, mr. speaker. on friday i attended a fund-raiser in new castle. there was humanitarian assistance provided. but many there expressed real fear at returning to syria especially now they're throwing their support for democracy and freedom. could the secretary of state assure me that he is working with his colleagues in the home office to insure that no syrians are forced to return to syria from the uk at this moment? >> i draw this point to the attentionst home secretary and a congratulate the honorable woman and the funds they're raising. i draw this attention to my home secretary.
and, of course, we have rigorous rules on the matters in terms of giving asylum, not returning people to countries that are in a state of great disorder. i will check on the point she raises. >> collin burns? >> mr. speaker, it is on going discussions with china for the use of the veto in these circumstances are a taste of things to come. it does not bode well. returning to the foreign minister tomorrow, regardless of the position that russia is taking, would my right honorable friend agree that if the russian foreign minister is to properly convey the mood of the u.n. of the international community and of the arab league, he will tell president assad his days are numbered and the only question is how much more blood will be spilled before he goes. >> that is what should be conveyed. i think russia's approach remains different from that as
we saw in the veto and they are still acting to protect the regime and still standing by a long standing ally despite everything that has happened. we will underline as i said earlier to russia to the representatives russian including the foreign minister the depth and strength of the opinion in this country as they will hear from the arab league and from so many other nations around the world. >> what assessment has the foreign secretary made of reports over the weekend that abu musab who until his capture in 2005 was dangerously active terrorist has been freed by the assad regime in an pareapparent warning to the united states and united kingdom. isn't this further evidence of the murderous activity of this government?
>> it is not designed to be helpful in any way. it is further evidence of what the honorable member refers to. if they think we're going to change our approach at the united nations or anywhere else because of announcements like that or release of any reprehensible criminal, then they are seriously mistaken. >> russia is inflicting a double blow on the syrian people by the veto and continuing the $1.5 billion of arms sales to assad's regime which enables the killing and maiming to continue. if the moral and humanitarian argument cannot get through, will the foreign secretary emphasize to his russian counterparts that it is not in their strategic and economic interest with their key trading partners in mdle east such as the uae and saudi arabia to act as a roadblock to protect the syrian people? >> yes, i absolutely agree with my honorable friend. i think is an important consideration for russian authorities. it is not even in their own national interest to take a
position that they have taken. there will be a future government in syria that will remember what they have done. whether the action they have taken is causing outrage in the sh wsia's who are deeply position as they said to me earlier this afternoon. so we will certainly employ the arguments cited by my honorable friend. >> killings and the murders and the disorder are obviously dreadful in syria and obviously have to be condemned. notwithstanding the foreign secretary's understandable anger with russia at the present time, does he not think it would be appropriate to have further negotiations with the russian foreign minister and with the government of iran who are our neighbor and who's interest it cannot be for further disorder to spread over into their country? and is he also confident of the democratic and inclusive credentials of the syrian opposition?
the example given by my other colleagues is surely one we can learn from where the abuse of human rights unfortunately is still continuing in some quarters in libya despite assurances given by the opposition there before the intervention. >> well, certainly we'll continue to have discussions with russia as i mentioned many times. i don't think that discussions with iran will be productive on this subject. the views of members of the syrian opposition vary greatly. indeed, there are different -- there are three different organizations that could be classified as the syrian opposition. and that is why i stress the need for them to come to international gatherings with a clear statement, a democratic and inclusive principles including the protection of minorities in syria. i think they will have greater support in the world if they can articulate those things clearly and set out a clear vision for the future of their country. >> it is always the innocent who suffer in these situations. anyone who has seen or heard of the collateral damage being
inflicted on the innocent women and children cannot fail to think that this russian veto is disgraceful and disgusting. could my right honorable friend tell me if there is any way we can use the remaining resources in syria or that of our allies to provide humanitarian ar medical assistance to the helpless victims? >> we don't really have the diplomatic -- we're down to the smallest level of representation that we can have consistent with diplomatic relations. our staff are there and are able to maintain an embassy. it's not easy for them to travel around the country at all. let alone to deliver practical assistance to people. so we can't do that with our diplomatic staff remaining. we do support the work of the icrc in the region as i say. and so i think we'll have to deliver any assistance that way. >> dr. lou snewis?
>> what longer term assessments are being made about the likely complexion of any successor regime to this dictatorship? >> as i was saying, there are many shades of opinion among the syrian opposition. i have to say that when i met members of the syrian national council, they were very clear in what they said about their commitment to an open and democratic society and to the protection of minorities. >> all i can say is that we will continue to urge the various groups in the opposition to adopt those open democratic principles in which we also believe. >> dan biles? >> what assessment have you made
of the number of people falling into the categories and what discussions have you made that are maintaining a diplomatic president wednesday regards to mute all a mutual aid? >> it is in any case the arrangement within the european union that we provide assistance to each other's citizens if one country is not able to do so. but, of course, the other -- the embassies of other nations are also being slimmed down. and it would be wrong for people to rely on that. i do think they should take our advice very seriously for we have said do not stay in syria. do not go to syria. i can't make it clearer than that. rather than expect practical assistance, they should leave and leave now. >> dr. philip lee. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i've had the privilege of visiting syria twice in my life. once in 1998 with a backpack on my back and last year or a
delegation ably by my right honorable friend, i was struck by the stark difference in access to news, to news media between country and between the two visits. does the foreign secretary agree with me that our foreign policy and indeed the foreign policies of all of our partners abroad should reflect that changed environment and the sooner the russian and chinese government understand and respect that, the better? it is understood by many people in syria. that is one of the reasons why it is not possible just to say to people there is no problem. and the government is doing everything it can when they can see that it isn't acting in the interest of the peaceful transition in syria.
so we will come to communicate and directly with the people of syria and the rest of the arab world, there is a lesson in that for russia and china in that. >> stewart jackson, thank you, mr. chairman. >> once we welcome the appointmentst special envoy to the syrian opposition, will that necessarily lead to the establishment of the contact group with the syrian national council and the syrian free army and the individuals in lieu of the establishment of free democratic government? >> we have to find out how much the opposition groups develop. i stress that the contact is with those advocating peaceful action. we have not had contact with the free syria army which is in a
different position. >> stephen gilbert? >> mr. speaker, in his statement to my honorable friend mentioned the possibility of securing a resolution of the united nations general assembly as a way of tack thlg issue. can i ask him what assessment has been made of the possibility of that and what time line he might be expecting to operate? >> well, we're still making an assessment for that. clearly, i was own on saturday that the resolutions vetoed and the security council. general assembly resolution does not have the same weight as the security council resolution. but it can illustrate the strength of numbers behind a
particular proposition. so we're discussing that now. whether that is a feasible way forward, we are discussing with the arab league and with our other partners on the security council as well i therefore can't give him a time line yet. but it is a possibility. suggest that the regrettable decision to veto was at least in part caused by russia and china believing western pow hers exceeded their mandate under u.n. resolution in 1973 when pursuing regime change in libya as they themselves made clear at the time? >> this is not an excuse for russia and china. as i pointed out earlier, there were other nation that's were very critical of our voted for resolution appreciating that it put forward on behalf of the arab league, it put forward a different proposition in how we
proceeded in libya because the situation is entirely different. so i don't think there should be advanced as an excuse for what is, in my view, an indefensible veto. >> can my honorable friend to more to work with other kun troiz give logistics and humanitarian aid to those opposition groups ill the stagee reached that we need to expel the syrian ambassador from the united kingdom? >> well, i hope i covered those points. we're not engaged and not planning on engaging in the opposition forces in syria although we will help with that advice and some logistics and practical support in order to insure their ability to operate.
i don't think it would be in their interest in any case to be seen as an arm of western governments. so there is a limit to what we can do in that regard. >> and we will work with our partners around the world on that. but there are advantages in keeping an emphasis as well as of making a strong statement of withdrawing an embassy. it does improve our understanding of the situation on the ground to have an embassy there. >> sir richard herrington? >> is the foreign secretary aware of the reports of chemical and other weaponry being moved by hezbollah out of syria? and if so, is he concerned about the consequence it could have for israel and jordan and the general stability of the region outside of syria? >> well, we keep a very close eye on any reports of the presence of chemical or b biological weapons. i haven't seen report of such weapons being moved around by