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The UK and Russia remain at odds over the supply of arms to Syria’s opposition, with Moscow suggesting that any move by the British government to give the rebels military equipment would breach international law.

The foreign secretary, William Hague, held talks in London with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in a meeting also attended by defence ministers Philip Hammond and Sergei Shoigu.

Last week Hague announced that Britain was stepping up its support for Syria’s opposition National Coalition and would be providing non-lethal equipment to rebel fighters. The government is inching towards arming the rebels, with David Cameron indicating on Wednesday that the UK might be prepared to bypass an EU arms embargo as events on the ground unfold.

Speaking after talks with Hague, however, Lavrov said the supply of lethal weapons to the rebels would be illegal. “International law doesn’t allow, doesn’t permit, the supplies of arms to non-governmental actors. It’s a violation of international law,” he claimed. Lavrov also raised the spectre of western arms falling into the hands of radical Islamist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, placed on a terrorist list by the US.

Read more at The Guardian

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