Page last updated at 18:07 GMT, Tuesday, 4 September 2012 19:07 UK

Hague rejects call to change 'catastrophic' policy on Syria

The humanitarian situation in Syria is "dire and getting worse", Foreign Secretary William Hague has said - but he denied a Labour MP's charge that "catastrophic" decisions by Western governments were partly to blame.

At Commons questions on 4 September 2012, Mr Hague told MPs: "More than 2.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, many are internally displaced and more than 200,000 have sought refuge in neighbouring countries."

But he dismissed a call from former Labour cabinet minister Peter Hain to alter the UK government's "obsession with regime change" in Syria.

The Labour MP said "a negotiated settlement, based on compromise" could end the "horrific and deepening civil war".

He concluded: "Is this not the time to admit that there has been a catastrophic and monumental failure of Western policy, and to change course?"

Although Mr Hain had said his suggestion was "not about appeasing Assad's butchery", the foreign secretary rejected any "further compromise with forces who have killed indiscriminately and oppressed the people of their country with appalling human rights violations".

Mr Hague said: "Our position was the position of the 133 nations in the UN General Assembly that voted for the resolution of 3 August, with only 12 votes against.

"That position is to have a transitional government in Syria, including members of the current government and the current opposition, based on mutual consent. That is the compromise solution."

Foreign Office: Government and opposition

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