French ministers disagree on Syrian opposition
France's Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. REUTERS PhotoFrance's Defence Minister said today it was still too early to recognize the newly created Syrian opposition coalition, calling for more to be done to unite the armed factions under its umbrella, Reuters reported.
Leaders of Syria's exiled opposition formed the coalition in Qatar's capital Doha on Sunday and the grouping is now seeking international recognition as a government-in-waiting.
Paris, one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's harshest critics, has said it would recognize a provisional government that included all strands of society.
But it has ruled out arming rebel forces, concerned weapons could get into the hands of radical Islamists.
"What happened in Doha is a step forward," Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters in Paris.
"We consider it to be significant. It is still not sufficient to constitute a provisional government that can be recognized internationally. But it's on the right track."
He said that while political unity was important it had to be accompanied by the unification of the various armed groups.
French FM calls for recognition of new Syrian opposition bloc
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius urged world powers today to recognize the newly formed Syrian opposition bloc, AFP reported.
"Our hope is that the different countries recognize the Syrian national coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people... France's role is to make that hope possible," Fabius told reporters in Cairo.
European Union foreign ministers meeting in Cairo welcomed the bloc and urged it to bring in more regime dissenters.
"The opposition has taken a huge step forward," said Fabius, who met earlier with both Khatib and George Sabra, the head of the Syrian National Council, the powerful opposition group that finally agreed to join the wider, more representative bloc.