Middle East

David Cameron: Safe passage for Syria's Assad acceptable

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionDavid Cameron: "If he wants to leave... that could be arranged". Clip courtesy al-Arabiya TV

UK Prime Minister David Cameron says he would back offering President Bashar al-Assad safe passage out of Syria if it ended the bloodshed there.

Mr Cameron said the international community should consider anything "to get that man out of the country".

He also told al-Arabiya TV he would favour Mr Assad "facing the full force of international law and justice".

But Amnesty International said Mr Assad and others were only likely to leave Syria if they were offered immunity.

"David Cameron should be supporting efforts to ensure that he faces justice, ideally at the International Criminal Court at The Hague," the human rights campaign group said in a statement.

The uprising against President Assad began in March last year. Activists say more than 35,000 people have been killed.

Speaking to al-Arabiya during a trip to Abu Dhabi, Mr Cameron said "number one concern" should be that the loss of life in Syria would continue.

"I am very frustrated that we can't do more," he said. "This is an appalling slaughter that is taking place."

"I am certainly not offering [Mr Assad] an exit plan to Britain, but if he wants to leave, he could leave, that could be arranged," Mr Cameron added.

He said the UK had no current plans to arm rebel groups fighting Mr Assad.

Kristyan Benedict, Amnesty International's UK Syria campaign manager, said that even if Mr Assad was allowed to leave, his command structure could remain in place.

He added that several past proposals to offer Mr Assad safe passage had been made on the basis that the Syrian president would be protected from prosecution.

"We think that's wrong," he said, adding that diplomatic efforts should focus on pushing for a UN Security Council resolution to hold all parties in Syria's conflict accountable.