Britain`s Hague to meet Syrian rebels on Monday

The leading opposition figures would also hold talks with senior officials from British PM`s Downing Street office.

London: British Foreign Secretary William Hague is to hold talks with Syrian rebel leaders in London on Monday, a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

The leading opposition figures would also hold talks with senior officials from Prime Minister David Cameron`s Downing Street office, another government ministry source said.

"The foreign secretary is meeting with the Syrian opposition," said the Foreign Office spokeswoman.

Hague would meet representatives from the Syrian National Council and the National Co-ordination Committee for Democratic Change following months of behind-the-scenes contacts, she added.

"We have been having regular contacts with a variety of figures in the Syrian opposition for several months. We are now intensifying these."

As part of the plan to step up contact, Hague had appointed Frances Guy, a former ambassador to Beirut, to handle relations with the exiled Syrian opposition, the spokeswoman added.

Hague, who has condemned the violence in Syria, has called for President Bashar al-Assad to step aside over his regime`s failure to end a government crackdown on protesters.

The Guardian newspaper said there were no plans to grant the Syrian rebels official recognition, as happened with Libya`s Transitional National Council as rebels there fought to oust Muammar Gaddafi`s regime from power.

The daily said Britain was also discussing other measures to send a message to Damascus that it would not be diplomatic business as usual when foreign embassies come under attack, as has happened this week.


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