LONDON, March 12 (KUNA) -- Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron has said
the UK would consider vetoing any extension to the European Union's arms
embargo on Syria.
The embargo is due to be renewed in May, but the prime minister told MPS
tonight it was "not out of the question we may have to do things in our own
The government has already promised to give "non-lethal" assistance to
forces opposed to President Bashar Assad.
Cameron said the UK was "still an independent country," although he hoped
the whole EU could reach agreement.
Last week, Foreign Secretary William Hague said the government would
provide armoured vehicles and body armour to opposition forces in Syria "to
help save lives," and offer millions of pounds in equipment, including search
and rescue, communications, and disease-prevention materials.
Up to 70,000 people have been killed in Syria and a million refugees have
fled the country since the crisis began two years ago.
The latest UN figures show that two million have been internally displaced,
while 400,000 have fled abroad since the start of the year, with the largest
number seeking shelter in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.
The UK has provided 139 million pounds to help run refugee camps.
EU members are divided over whether to lift the embargo, with some, such as
Germany, concerned that this would lead to a proliferation of arms in Syria
and the surrounding region. France supports the UK in calling for an easing of
Questioned by the House of Common Liaison Committee, made up of senior MPs,
Cameron said: "I hope that we can persuade our European partners, if and when
a further change becomes necessary, and that they will agree with us.
"But if we can't, then it's not out of the question we might have to do
things in our own way. It's possible."
He added: "I hope that wouldn't be the case. What I would like to do is
continue with an EU approach."
He said the UK was "still an independent country" and "we can have an
independent foreign policy."
The commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army, General Selim Idriss, has
called for the lifting of the EU embargo, saying it is having a much more
negative effect on the opposition than on the Assad regime.
Cameron said: "It's worth standing back and asking 'Why are we doing this?
It seems that if we want to help bring about a transition in Syria, we have to
work with opposition groups."
Vetoing the embargo was "not a decision we have taken", he added, telling
the MPs: "And I hope we don't have to break from a collaborative approach
across the European Union."
"It may be that doing nothing will see lethal Jihadism get worse," he
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