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Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 10th July 2013.

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Photo of James Clappison James Clappison Conservative, Hertsmere

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to Syrian Opposition forces about religious toleration, non-sectarianism and the protection of the rights of the Christian minority in Syria.

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

We are extremely concerned by the rising sectarian tensions in Syria which the actions of the Assad regime are continuing to exacerbate. The regime's actions undermine the stability and security of Syria and thereby endanger all Syria's citizens, including Christians and other religious minorities. As for the Opposition the UK Special Representative to the Opposition, Jon Wilks, is in regular contact with the Syrian National Coalition to stress the need for them to respect fully and protect the rights of all communities, including ethnic and religious minorities. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has personally reinforced these messages to the National Coalition leadership, most recently in Amman on 20 May.

On 20 April the National Coalition published a compact with the international community and the Syrian people in which it confirmed the importance it places on: the inclusion of all Syrians; the rejection of terrorism and extremist groups; and efforts to develop a clear plan for transition. These important steps have enabled many countries to expand their assistance to the opposition. We will continue to raise these crucial issues with the National Coalition on a regular basis, and to emphasise the important that must be attached to them.

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