Western, Arab officials to discuss military assistance to Syrian rebels in Istanbul
ROME - Reuters
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) waves the audience with President of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib during a meeting at Akcakale Refugee camp on December 30, 2012, in Urfa. AFP PHOTO/STR
Western and Arab officials will meet representatives of the Syrian opposition in Istanbul next Monday to discuss military and humanitarian support for rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad, a European diplomatic source said on Thursday.
"The meeting aims to work directly with opposition structures to increase the level of support," the source said, adding that both civilian and military representatives of the Syrian opposition would attend.
The source spoke on the margins of a meeting in Rome between the Syrian National Coalition - the main civilian opposition group - and Western and Arab nations.
In a policy shift, the United States has decided to provide medical supplies and food to Syrian fighters, but will still oppose giving the rebels weapons, a source familiar with the matter said overnight.
Istanbul meet to elect Syria opposition PM postponed
BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
A Syrian opposition meeting scheduled for Saturday in Istanbul to elect a prime minister for a government of rebel-held zones has been postponed and no new date set, the opposition coalition said.
"The conference has been postponed and no new date has been set. I cannot reveal the reasons at this time and I do not exclude its cancellation," National Coalition member Samir Nashar told AFP on Thursday.
The decision was taken by opposition chief Moaz al-Khatib attending a Friends of Syria conference in Rome, he said.
Nashar pointed to "US-Russian efforts to start a dialogue between the Syrian regime and the Coalition that would result in a transitional government and thus be at odds with an interim (opposition) government." "Some people may speculate that the delay was about who will head the government ... (but) there are no divisions within the Coalition. The hotel was booked and all of the delegates were expected to arrive," he stressed.