UK prime minister talks with US and French presidents about offering more ‘non-lethal’ support to opposition
David Cameron has endorsed a warning by Barack Obama that the use, or even the threat, of chemical weapons by President Bashar al-Assad could trigger a military intervention in Syria.
In a telephone conversation on Wednesday evening, the two leaders agreed to “revisit their approach” if the Syrian president makes any moves towards using chemical weapons.
“Both [leaders] agreed that the use – or threat – of chemical weapons was completely unacceptable and would force them to revisit their approach so far,” a Downing Street spokesperson said after the phone call.
The move by Cameron follows the warning by Obama on Monday that Assad would face “enormous consequences” if his regime deploys chemical weapons. Saying that any threat to use chemical weapons could “change the calculus” on intervention, Obama added: “We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people. We’ve been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is if we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilised.”
The prime minister, who returned to Downing Street from his holiday in Spain prior to meetings on the Paralympic Games on Thursday, before resuming his holidays elsewhere, also agreed with Obama that more support needed to be provided to the Syrian opposition. The No 10 spokesperson said: “The prime minister and Obama discussed how to build on the support already given to the opposition to end the appalling violence in Syria and bring about stability. Both said that they wanted to see a credible opposition and hoped that the opposition would use their upcoming meeting in Cairo to show real unity of purpose and coherence in working towards transition.”
In an earlier conversation on Wednesday evening, the prime minister agreed with the French president, François Hollande, that Britain and France would work out how to provide more support to the opposition after the recent agreement to provide “non-lethal support”. The No 10 spokesperson said: “The main focus of both conversations was the appalling situation that continues in Syria. The prime minister said that he and Hollande were 100% in agreement as they discussed political, humanitarian and military issues affecting the country and the wider region.
“They discussed how to build on the non-lethal support recently announced by the UK and agreed that France and the UK would work more closely to identify how they could bolster the opposition and help a potential transitional Syrian government after the inevitable fall of Assad.”