Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday that “urgent” pressure must be put on the rival Syrian sides to propose names for a transitional government.
Cameron said after talks with U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon that he “fully supports” plans for a new international peace conference that could be held in Geneva next month.
The conference would seek to break the deadlock on efforts to set up a transitional government even though Syrian rebels have refused to discuss any arrangement that includes President Bashar al-Assad.
“What is important here is to make sure that we really put pressure on the parties to bring forward the necessary names for a transitional government and that we start proper detailed negotiations,” Cameron told reporters.
“My concern is that we will get into too long a process. Urgent action needs to be taken right now to put pressure on the participants to get together to agree a transitional government that everyone in Syria can get behind,” he said.
Cameron also defended moves to soften a European Union arms embargo on Syria.
EU sanctions against Syria to be reconsidered at the end of the month, with France and Britain pushing for a lifting of the embargo so rebels can receive weapons.
Cameron said the embargo had already been amended “so that we can give the opposition forces technical assistance, we can help to shape them and work with them and I think that is important.”
“If you don't engage with the opposition then we shouldn't be surprised if extremist elements in that opposition grow and that's not what we want. So we should be engaging and that is the debate that will take place in Europe,” the British leader said.