Britain's Hague meets Syrian activists in London
British Foreign Secretary William Hague met pro-democracy Syrian activists in London on Thursday, describing them as exiles from a "brutal regime that has lost all legitimacy."
Hague met human rights activist Catherine Talli, who was detained by the Syrian authorities in May this year before being released, as well as opposition member Bassam Ishak, a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.
It was not the first time Hague had met such activists but the meeting took place amid growing Western condemnation of the crackdown on protesters against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
"Catherine Talli and Bassam Ishak have been forced into exile by a brutal regime that has lost all legitimacy. President Assad must step aside so that credible reform can begin," Hague said.
"Syrians from all walks of life and all religious communities have been united in their opposition to the regime's attempts to violently suppress their legitimate aspirations for a better future.
"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."
The Foreign Office spokeswoman said British officials had met several members of the opposition at various levels and passed on messages "about the need for this to be an inclusive and peaceful process."
She said Britain was "facilitating" opposition groups to engage with each other, adding: "We believe the transition should be a Syrian-led process and we will respond as appropriate to specific requests for our support."
© 2011 AFP