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UK says steps up contact with Syrian opposition

British Foreign Secretary William Hague will meet with Syrian opposition representatives in London next week in an intensification of contact with opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, the foreign ministry said on Friday.

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November 19, 2011 1:35 by



The Syrian opposition members would also meet senior officials of Prime Minister David Cameron at his Downing Street office.

Britain has been a strong critic of Assad, calling for him to step aside and end a crackdown on anti-government protests that according to the United Nations has killed at least 3,500 people since March, but has ruled out military intervention.

“We have been having regular contacts with a variety of figures in the Syrian opposition for several months. We are now intensifying these,” the Foreign Office said.

It added that Britain’s former ambassador to Lebanon, Frances Guy, had been appointed to coordinate relations with the Syrian opposition.

The delegation would include members of the opposition Syrian National Counciland the National Co-ordination Committee for Democratic Change, in meetings expected to take place on Monday, a Foreign Office source said.

Hague called this week for the European Union to consider further sanctions against Syria to increase pressure on Assad to end the violence in the country. (Reporting by Tim Castle; Editing by Matthew Jones)



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