DAVID Cameron today chaired a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss what further pressure Britain can exert on the two sides in Syria’s civil war to attend peace talks.
• David Cameron convenes security talks aimed at political resolution of Syria conflict
• Meeting follows G8 agreement to attempt to revive peace talks in Geneva
Labour leader Ed Miliband was invited to take part in the discussion, which brought together policy-makers with security chiefs and military top brass, sparking speculation that the Prime Minister may be seeking to pave the way for Britain to start supplying weapons to rebel forces fighting to oust President Bashar Assad.
But the PM’s official spokesman said that the focus of the meeting was the so-called Geneva II process, following the agreement at last week’s G8 summit between major powers including the US and Russia to try to revive peace talks in the Swiss city.
“The discussion focused on how we achieve a political solution that can lead to the political transition that is so important, and to support that process how we put pressure on all sides and how we and our partners can continue to strengthen the Syrian National Coalition in the way that we have been doing,” said the spokesman.
Also on the agenda for today’s meeting were Afghanistan, where lead military responsibility was last week handed over to home-grown forces across the whole country, and Iran, where the election of Hassan Rouhani as president has led to hopes of reform.
Mr Cameron said when he established the NSC in 2010 that he would like the leader of the opposition to be invited on an occasional basis, and this is the third time it has happened. Harriet Harman attended in 2010 as acting Labour leader and Mr Miliband took part in a meeting during the Libyan crisis of 2011.
Mr Cameron’s spokesman said that the Labour leader took part as “a full participant” in today’s hour-long meeting and was able to contribute to discussions.