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.