France says will ask EU to re-examine Syrian arms embargo

AFP , Thursday 15 Nov 2012

After it recognised newly formed opposition National Coalition as sole representative of Syrian people, France says it will ask EU to lift ban on sending weapons to Syrian opposition

France will raise the issue of excluding defensive weapons from the current arms embargo on Syria to help rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's regime, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Thursday.

"For the moment, there is an embargo, so there are no arms being delivered from the European side. The issue... will no doubt be raised for defensive arms," Fabius told RTL radio.

"The issue will be raised because the (opposition) coalition has asked us to do so," he said, adding that "this is something that we can only do in coordination with the Europeans."

"France's position for the moment is to say that we must not militarise the conflict, but it is evidently unacceptable that there are liberated zones and that they be bombarded by Bashar's planes," Fabius told RTL radio.

"The issue of defensive arms will be raised," he added.

France on Tuesday became the first Western country to recognise Syria's newly formed opposition National Coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people.

French President Francois Hollande will on Saturday meet the coalition's leaders in Paris, Fabius said, including chief Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib and Georges Sabra, the president of the Syrian National Council.

Khatib on Tuesday called on world powers to arm the Syrian rebels with "specialised weapons."

Short link: