March 6, 2013 / 1:54 PM / 7 years ago

UK ups Syria aid, says EU must be ready to go further

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague leaves Downing Street in central London February 5, 2013. . REUTERS/Neil Hall (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3DDBH

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Wednesday the world’s efforts to end the bloodshed in Syria had been an “abject failure”, and urged the European Union to be prepared to “move further” if no political solution to the crisis was found.

In his strongest comments on the Syria conflict yet, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain would increase aid to Syria’s opposition and supply it with armored vehicles and training, which would include advice on how to secure areas seized from President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

Hague said the chances of getting an immediate political solution to the nearly two-year-old crisis were slim and that diplomacy was taking too long. However, he played down the prospect of direct Western military intervention.

“In our view if a political solution to the crisis in Syria is not found and the conflict continues, we and the rest of the European Union will have to be ready to move further, and we should not rule out any option for saving lives,” Hague told parliament.

But he added: “No Western government is advocating military intervention of Western nations into the conflict in Syria. The discussion is entirely focused on the degree of assistance that can and should be delivered to the opposition.”

More than 70,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict so far and more than a million displaced. Hague said he would soon discuss Syria with Russia’s foreign minister and deputy foreign minister as well as with the United Nations’ Syria mediator Lakhdar Brahimi.

Reporting by Mohammed Abbas and Andrew Osborn; Editing by Andrew Osborn

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