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Cameron to focus on Syria at G20
Prime Minister David Cameron will pursue every possible option for Syria when he visits the G20 summit in Russia, Foreign Secretary William Hague has said.
Mr Hague said the conflict in Syria would dominate the bi-lateral meetings between countries but it was up to the Russian government to set the agenda for multi-lateral talks, which will take place at the summit in St Petersburg on Thursday and Friday.
Speaking during Foreign Office questions in the House of Commons, Mr Hague also condemned the Syrian regime for preventing vital humanitarian aid from reaching Syrian refugees.
Mr Hague said: "It is in bilateral meetings that Syria will be a dominant issue in St Petersburg and should be. The Prime Minister will of course be pursuing it... through every channel in St Petersburg, as he has done and I have done in a whole series of bilateral and multilateral meetings over the last few months.
"Our problem is not being unable to discuss these things in the international community - it is being unable to agree how we bring about a transitional government in Syria, formed from government and opposition by mutual consent. There is no shortage of venues for discussing those things, platforms for discussing those things - we have had two and a half years of discussion on this. It is agreement that is elusive, not a forum for discussion."
In a question to Mr Hague, former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said there was a humanitarian problem not just in countries that border Syria but within the country itself.
Turning to Mr Hague, he said: "Are you satisfied that proper opportunity is available to all organisations, inside and outside Syria, who have humanitarian objectives in mind?"
Mr Hague replied: "The answer is that I am not satisfied that all of the access is there. British aid is reaching... into many parts of Syria. British aid is being widely distributed inside as well as outside of Syria. But there have often been, and continues to be, severe problems of humanitarian access - often not permitted by the regime.
"It is another testimony towards the callousness of this regime towards its own people that not only have they killed so many tens of thousands but also that they obstruct the delivery of aid, including medical supplies, to people in their own country who desperately need it."
Mr Hague said the Government would hold talks with the President of the National Coalition in Syria, Ahmad Jarba, on Thursday, when there would be further talks on what Britain could do to help save lives. The Foreign Secretary added: "We support a strong international response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria while of course respecting the views of this House."