EU foreign ministers to meet head of Syrian opposition
(BRUSSELS) - European Union foreign ministers will exchange views Monday with the leader of the newly-formed Syrian opposition coalition, EU officials said, as some EU member states pressed for the rebels to be armed.
They said ministers will meet Ahmed Moaz Al-Khatib, president of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, to discuss latest developments in a bloody conflict which has now cost some 42,000 lives.
Several EU states, led by Britain and France, have recognised the coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and want to go further in supporting its struggle to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
The EU officials said Friday, however, that other member states were more cautious, wanting to see if the coalition is fully inclusive of all parties in Syria before making any greater commitment.
Britain said Thursday it would press its European partners on Monday to amend the EU arms embargo on Syria so as to allow them to provide help directly to the rebels.
Brussels agreed late last month to extend its sanctions against Damascus, including the arms embargo, for a further three months, after they were due to expire on November 30.
The EU has imposed 19 rounds of sanctions against the Damascus regime since the eruption of anti-Assad revolts in March last year, including a wide range of trade and financial measures as well as the arms embargo.
Syrian opposition groups agreed in Doha to sink their differences and form a single body in the hope of getting direct aid, including crucial anti-aircraft weapons, to combat President Assad.