PM: Drive Syria extremists out

David Cameron said he wants to see al Qaeda-linked extremists "driven out" of Syria. His comments came as Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi told a gathering in Cairo that his country has cut all diplomatic ties with Syria.

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Clegg: 'Striking the right balance' on arming Syrian rebels

The Deputy Prime Minister said questions about whether he would support arming the Syrian rebels in a Commons vote was "academic" as the Government had yet to decide if it wanted to follow this course of action.

Nick Clegg told the BBC One Andrew Marr programme that the appropriate course of action was for the Government to make its decision before testing opinion in the Commons.

We need to work in concert with our allies but we don't all need to do the identical thing.

We are already providing assistance to the opposition, we should do that. The balance we are trying to strike - a difficult one - is how do you provide support to people who we have already recognised as the legitimate successors of the Assad regime?

We are providing non-lethal assistance, we have taken no decision to provide lethal assistance.We clearly don't think it is the right thing to do now otherwise we would have decided to do it.

Mr Clegg said Britain's current contributions - items like armoured 4x4s, body armour and communications equipment - offered a "great deal of assistance" to the official opposition.He said discussions with Mr Cameron continued on an "on-going basis"

We both understand we are trying to strike the right balance between playing a part with other allies to provide support to the opposition who we think deserve support so they can play a leading role in forging a new Syria.

But not at the same time embroiling this country in another conflict in a way I don't think would be acceptable to the British people.

PM wants to see extremists 'driven out' of Syria

Prime Minister David Cameron said he wants to see al Qaeda-linked extremists "driven out" of Syria.

Mr Cameron acknowledged there are "deeply unsavoury" elements of the Syrian opposition that he wants "nothing to do with", but said the British Government would continue to offer non-lethal support to the "genuine" political opposition.

David Cameron said he wants to see al Qaeda-linked extremists 'driven out' of Syria. Credit: Will Oliver/PA Wire

Speaking to Sky News' Murnaghan programme, the Prime Minister said: "There are elements of the Syrian opposition who want to see a free democratic, pluralistic Syria that respects the rights of minorities including Christians and we should be working with them - we are working with them.

"If we don't work with those elements of the Syrian opposition, then we can't be surprised if the only elements of the Syrian opposition that are getting, that are actually making any progress in Syria, are the ones that we don't approve of".


Egypt's Morsi calls for Syria no-fly zone

Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi urged world powers not to hesitate to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria.

The Islamist head of state had previously appeared somewhat less confrontational toward President Bashar al-Assad than Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

But in a speech to Sunni Muslim clerics in Cairo he said he had cut all ties to Damascus and demanded Lebanon's Shi'ite Hezbollah movement quit Syria.

Egyptian President cuts all ties with Syria

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has said Egypt has decided to cut all ties with Syria and will withdraw the country's envoy from Damascus.

Addressing a gathering of Sunni Muslim clerics in Cairo, Morsi said: "We decided today to entirely break off relations with Syria and with the current Syrian regime."

He also warned Assad's allies in the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi'ite militia to pull back from fighting in Syria.

"We stand against Hezbollah in its aggression against the Syrian people," Morsi said.

"Hezbollah must leave Syria - these are serious words. There is no space or place for Hezbollah in Syria."

US to keep Patriot missiles and fighter jets in Jordan

The US will keep Patriot missile batteries and F-16 fighter jets in Jordan after the completion of joint military exercises this month amid the crisis in neighboring Syria, the Pentagon has said.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel "has approved a request from the Kingdom of Jordan for a detachment of F-16s and Patriot Missiles to remain in Jordan following the conclusion of the Eager Lion Exercise next week," Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement.

Syrian chemical weapon use risks 'political settlement'

The use of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces and the involvement of Hezbollah fighters threaten to "put a political settlement out of reach," the US State Department said today.

A statement cited comments by Secretary of State John Kerry after his talks with Iraq's foreign minister:

The secretary reaffirmed that the United States continues to work aggressively for a political solution with the goal of a second Geneva meeting, but that the use of chemical weapons and increasing involvement of Hezbollah demonstrates the regime's lack of commitment to negotiations and threatens to put a political settlement out of reach.

– state department statement


Russia: Syria no-fly zone 'would break international law'

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said any attempt to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria using F-16 fighter jets and Patriot missiles from Jordan would violate international law.

There have been leaks from Western media regarding the serious consideration to create a no-fly zone over Syria through the deployment of Patriot anti-aircraft missiles and F-16 jets in Jordan.

You don't have to be a great expert to understand that this will violate international law.

Blair: Arguments on Syria intervention 'same as Iraq'

Former prime minister Tony Blair said the arguments about whether to intervene in Syria are "exactly" the same as those that took place before the Iraq war.

Speaking ahead of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland, Mr Blair told The Times (£), "People are no longer going to accept that a minority ruled the country without the say of the majority. It’s exactly the arguments we went through over Iraq".

The Middle East envoy said he believes Britain should help the US to arm Syrian rebels.

Former prime minister Tony Blair. Credit: Dennis Van Tine/ABACA USA/Empics Entertainment

Mr Blair said: "On Syria, I feel very strongly we are in danger of a failure with catastrophic consequences if we’re not careful.

"This is no longer a civil war between factions within Syria. We should be taking a more interventionist line. That’s where I come from in politics. People can agree or disagree with it.

"There are those within the Syrian Opposition who want a pluralistic society and democracy coming out of all of this - and they are the one group of people who are not being armed”.

Obama to meet Cameron ahead of G8 summit

US President Barack Obama will meet the Prime Minister on Monday ahead of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland.

He will also hold bilateral talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday evening.

The Syrian conflict has been high on the world leaders' agenda, and David Cameron has said there is credible evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime has used chemical weapons in "multiple attacks".

Prime Minister David Cameron with President Barack Obama at the White House in May. Credit: Chris Kleponis/DPA/Press Association Images

The White House said: "The summit and related meetings will provide the President and his fellow world leaders an opportunity to address pressing economic, political and security challenges around the globe".

The President and family will arrive in Belfast on Monday morning, where he will deliver remarks at a event to highlight the "hard work, dialogue, and institutional development" the people of Northern Ireland have undertaken to advance peace and prosperity.

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