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London 18:45, 02 Jan 2013
New York 13:45, 02 Jan 2013
Last updated at 19:44 (UK time) 6 Nov 2012

Informal remarks by Sir Mark Lyall Grant, UK Ambassador and Permanent Representative, to a press 'gaggle' on the situation in Syria.

06 November 2012

Informal remarks on the situation in Syria - 6 November 2012
Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant at the Security Council Stakeout

“We just had a very sombre briefing from Mr Feltman in the Security Council on the situation on Syria. It’s quite clear that contrary to our wishes and hopes that the Eid ceasefire didn’t hold even on the first day of the ceasefire. The main responsibility for that lies with the Syrian regime because as we have always said, and indeed said in the statement on the 24th of October, the primary responsibility does lie with the regime. They have continued to bombard civilian populations. They’ve used airstrikes. They’ve used cluster munitions. They’ve used heavy artillery, and that fighting continues. But there has been violence also on both sides and that is clear.

“We called for a briefing from Mr Brahimi when he is finished with his current meetings and travels and we hope that will take place in the Security Council before the end of the month. We hope Mr Brahimi will come with some ideas and recommendations for Council action because we believe it is past the time when the Council needs to take stronger action than the few statements and Chapter VI resolutions so far adopted on Syria.”

Q: What do you think about his comments that Russia needs to be more proactive on solving this crisis?

“I think he is hoping that everyone will be more proactive. But clearly the fact that Russia and China have three times vetoed efforts by the Council to take more coercive action against the regime, there is a particular responsibility on them.  They are supporting the Assad regime, and therefore they have particular responsibilities as permanent members of the Council to stop this violence.”

Q: Did Mr Feltman mention anything on cluster bombs?

“He mentioned the fact that there was evidence of the use of cluster bombs in the airstrikes.”

Q:  Has there been any mention of a possible immunity deal for President Assad? Your Prime Minister mentioned this in an interview today that there may be safe way arrange for a safe way for President Assad to get out. Was there any mention of this?

“That hasn’t been raised so far by the speakers in the Security Council although the meeting of course is continuing. But as my Prime Minister made it clear, we feel very strongly about accountability and believe that Assad and his regime should report to justice for the crimes they have perpetrated. But there is also an urgent priority to stop the violence and get a political dialogue going.  Now it is incredible to think the opposition will accept Assad as part of that transition process. But exactly how that is achieved, of course, we will wait to see.”

Q: So when do hope to have Mr Brahimi back in the Council?

“We hope that will happen before the end of this month.”

Q: Did he bring up this thing on the tanks [in the buffer zone in the Golan]?

“Yes. I raised that as did a number of Member States and indeed Mr Feltman himself mentioned it in his briefing.”

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