Bloomberg News

Hague Welcomes ‘Strong Signal’ Sent to Syria by Arab League

February 13, 2012

(Updates with additional comments from Hague starting in fourth paragraph.)

Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The Arab League has sent a “strong signal” to Syria and a multi-national peacekeeping force could play a useful role in the strife-torn nation, U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

Western nations are unlikely to contribute troops to a United Nations’ peacekeeping mission proposed by the Arab League, Hague told reporters in Cape Town today. A UN force should be used only once peace has been reached in Syria, he said.

The Arab League, a union of 22 Arabic-speaking African and Asian nations, called yesterday for the formation of an Arab-UN peacekeeping force “to supervise implementation of a cease- fire,” according to a league statement given to reporters in Cairo. It would replace an Arab League observation mission that was suspended as violence against protesters continued.

A peacekeeping force “is a concept that could contribute to saving lives, but for such an idea to work we will have to wait for peace,” Hague told reporters in Cape Town after a meeting with Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, his South African counterpart. “I don’t see the way forward in Syria as being western boots on the ground. It would have to come from other nations rather than western nations.”

The Arab League called for ending “all forms of diplomatic cooperation” with representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, the 22-member group said in a statement after a meeting of foreign ministers.

The league urged “all countries that are keen to preserve Syrian lives” to follow suit and said the proposals should be sent to the UN General Assembly. It called for an end to violence and said it would “provide all forms of political and financial support” to the Syrian opposition.

Russia and China on Feb. 4 vetoed a UN Security Council resolution supported by the Arab League that was designed to find a political solution to a conflict that the UN estimates has killed more than 5,400 people. Syrian forces have intensified their attacks since the initiative was blocked.

--Editors: Andrew Atkinson, Fergal O’Brien

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Brand in Cape Town at rbrand9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Gavin Serkin at gserkin@bloomberg.net


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