London calls on Syrian opposition to unite


LONDON, Sept. 30 (UPI) — Syrian opposition groups need to unite to define their shared vision of a democratic future, the British foreign minister said from London.

British Foreign Minister William Hague met in London with Syrian opposition leaders Catherine el-Talli and Bassam Ishak, who were forced into exile by the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Hague said, in a statement following his meeting, the opposition movement would gain by a display of coordination.

“It is now vital for the many groups that form the Syrian opposition to unite and work together to define a shared vision for the future of Syria,” he said. “We urge them to continue to ensure that their protests are peaceful, to renounce sectarianism, and to work toward a Syria where the political system is inclusive, representative and adheres to international human rights standards.”

Much of the international community has called on Assad to step down because of his regime’s response to an uprising that is threatening to turn violent. Nearly 3,000 people have died at the hands of Syrian forces since the uprising began in March.

Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, was assaulted Thursday by regime supporters as he tried to meet with an opposition leader inside the country.

“We condemn this unwarranted attack in the strongest possible terms,” said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during a news conference with her Nigerian counterpart. “Ambassador Ford and his aides were conducting normal embassy business and this attempt to intimidate our diplomats through violence is wholly unjustified.”

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