Assad's safe exit possible - Cameron

2012-11-06 18:51

Jeddah - A safe exit and possible immunity from prosecution for President Bashar Assad "could be arranged" if it would end Syria's increasingly bloody conflict, British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday before a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Some 32 000 people have been killed in Syria during a revolt against Assad that began with peaceful protests in March 2011 but became an armed rebellion after a deadly military crackdown.

"Done. Anything, anything, to get that man out of the country and to have a safe transition in Syria," Cameron told the Saudi-based Al Arabiya news network in Abu Dhabi when asked about offering Assad safe passage.

"Of course I would favour him facing the full force of international law and justice for what he's done. I am certainly not offering him an exit plan to Britain but if he wants to leave he could leave, that could be arranged," he said.

Immunity deal

It was unclear if Cameron had spoken to other UN Security Council members about the idea - which could involve offering Assad immunity from prosecution if he accepted asylum in a third country. Nor was it clear what nation would take him.

A spokesperson for Cameron suggested separately that an immunity deal could - reluctantly - be put on the table.

"Clearly we would like Assad to face justice for what he has done, but our priority, given the situation in that country, has to be an end to violence and a transition. And that cannot take place while Assad remains in place," the spokesperson said.

The UN human rights office has said Syrian officials suspected of committing or ordering crimes against humanity should face prosecution at the International Criminal Court.

UN human rights investigators have been gathering evidence of atrocities committed by armed rebels as well as by government forces and pro-Assad militia.

Saudi Arabia

Visiting the Middle East on a trade and diplomacy trip, Cameron is expected to discuss Syria with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah as well as other regional and commercial issues.

Saudi Arabia has led Arab efforts to isolate Assad's government and has orchestrated Arab League moves to impose sanctions. Last month, Riyadh expelled Syrian consulate workers, after having expelled Syria's ambassador in March.

Syria has accused Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Muslim states in the region of fuelling the bloodshed by backing the rebels.

The Syrian struggle has taken on a sectarian tone, with mostly Sunni rebels battling loyalist forces dominated by Assad's minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.

Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Gulf Arab states are wary of powerful Shi'ite neighbour Iran, one of Assad's few allies.

Assad's other friends are China and Russia, Security Council members which have vetoed three Western-backed UN draft resolutions aimed at exerting pressure on the Syrian leader.

  • duncan.gill1 - 2012-11-06 19:04

    He is desperate for some foreign policy trophy isn't he!!!!What's the bet Assad wont except.. maybe because he has been misunderstood from the outset...this latest move only highlights this fact..lets see how he reacts My bet is he will scoff at it like the true patriot he obviously is or sees himself to be.Cameron will once again show his inability to tackle any foreign affairs diplomacy..he can hardly conduct any successful domestic affairs so its not surprising!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-11-06 19:23

      Poor Bashar Assad. Misunderstood. A good reason to detain, torture, rape and kill tens of thousands of Syrians and their families. What are you thinking?! Are you thinking?

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-11-06 20:04

      . This is all, silly speculation.... The people of Syria, will NEVER EVER allow this assad terrorist, to cross THEIR border !!!!!!

  • fred.fraser.12 - 2012-11-06 19:44

    Leaders who murder and torture should be treated differently?

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-11-06 20:58

      My hero George Bush? Where do you get this stuff from? Instead of making things up, how about having a real conversation.

  • diana.gill.18 - 2012-11-06 19:45

    To me this idiot Cameron, sir, looks like an average english countryside pub sitter: bends a double whiskey and thinks he knows everything about everything, especially the international politics... The only true and unfortunately last PM of GB was Mrs. Thatcher.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-11-07 01:15

      . The people of the UK, are soo fortunate, it is up to THEM, if they want Cameron to be their leader, yes or no!! If and when he makes a wrong move, they don't even have to wait a few years to get rid of him.......they can fire him 'that same day!! And as important, there one is free ,to critisize their leaders, without a fear of being arrested, beaten up, tortured, raped and even murdered. And THIS is precisely what peoples who live in dictatorships are longing for. Some kind of accountability from their leaders. Becaue the alternative to this is not only a corruption unimaginable, but TYRANNY.

  • albert.opperman.7 - 2012-11-06 20:50

    Disgusting Mr. Cameron!!! You are a disgrace to the World and International Law pertaining to "Human Right's Issues" and "War Crimes"! If you are looking for a "cheap-way" out of this one, I don't think you will get it.... a stand and show some leadership like the British Citizens that elected you expect.... What would Winston Churchill or Margaret Thatcher have done in a situation like this???? You're just trying to "pussy-foot" around the real issues and trying to maintain your "man-of-the-moment" popularity. Your predecessor has been critisised for his decisions, but at least the man had a mind of his own... Show some balls please!!!!

  • ntemi.mark - 2012-11-06 20:59

    gosh! quite interesting indeed,kill as many pple as you want u'll certainly get a safe exit,worse 2the 3rd world country,why 3rd world country? what a wonderful world!

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