William Hague has said that Britain has the right to arm Syrian rebels from now on, not subject to a deadline. He added that Britain has no current plans to do so.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has criticised the failure of the European Union to agree upon a new arms embargo, and insisted that the delivery of sophisticated surface-to-air missiles may help restrain "hot heads" and "warmongers".
Speaking to Russia Today he said:
Those systems by definition cannot be used by militant groups on the battlefield. We consider this delivery a factor of stabilization.
We believe that moves like this one to a great degree restrain some hotheads from escalating the conflict to the international scale, from involving external forces.
Russia's deputy foreign minister has confirmed that Moscow will provide Syria with state-of-the art air defence missiles to prevent foreign intervention in the country.
Sergei Ryabkov would not say whether any of the long-range S-300 air defence missiles had already been shipped, but said Moscow did not intend to abandon the deal.
Ryabkov said the deal helps restrain some "hot heads" considering a military intervention in Syria.
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has said that the EU's failure to renew the arms embargo on Syria does "direct damage" to the chances of peace talks.
"This does direct damage to the prospects for convening the international conference," he said.
Speaking at a conference today, Russia's deputy foreign minister said that the EU failure to renew the arms embargo on Syria hurts future prospects for peace.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said the European Union's decision to lift the Syrian arms embargo was the "right decision."
Foreign Secretary William Hague said the decision to lift the Syrian arms embargo gives the European Union "flexibility to respond" if the crisis deteriorates further in the future.
He said in a statement: "The other elements of EU sanctions on the Assad regime will be retained. EU nations also agreed a common framework for those member states who, in the future, may decide to supply military equipment to the Syrian National Coalition.
"These agreed safeguards would ensure that any such equipment would only be supplied to the National Coalition, for the protection of civilians.
"This does not mean that we have made any decision as the United Kingdom to send arms to the National Coalition, but we now have the flexibility to respond in the future if the situation continues to deteriorate and if the Assad regime refuses to negotiate.
"Thousands of lives are at stake in Syria. Our focus remains on efforts to secure a successful outcome at the forthcoming Geneva conference, and a political transition that ends the conflict, allows refugees to return to their homes, and prevents further radicalisation in Syria."
– Foreign Secretary William Hague
Tonight EU nations agreed to bring the arms embargo on the Syrian opposition to an end. This was the outcome that the United Kingdom wanted. It was a difficult decision for some countries, but it was necessary and right to reinforce international efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Syria.
It was important for Europe to send a clear signal to the Assad regime that it has to negotiate seriously, and that all options remain on the table if it refuses to do so. Tonight EU nations have done just that.
Baroness Ashton, the EU's foreign affairs chief, said European Union governments would review the position on Syria sanctions before August 1st.