Syrian opposition leaders meet French president
PARIS - Agence France-Presse
REUTERS photoSyria's new opposition chief Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib met Saturday with French President Francois Hollande for talks on protection of "liberated" zones, refugees and the formation of a provisional government for the war-torn state.
Hollande and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met Khatib and his two deputies in the Elysee palace for talks that come just four days after France became the first Western country to recognise the newly-formed National Coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people.
Elysee aides said the talks would centre on "ways and means to assure the protection of liberated zones, humanitarian aid for refugees and the constitution of a provisional government".
Hollande and Khatib were due to make a statement to the press after the meeting.
Syria's opposition National Coalition has promised to include all the country's ethnic and religious groups, including Christians and Alawites, in the government it plans to form, President Francois Hollande said.
Khatib and his deputies on Friday met in London with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who indicated he would decide within days whether to officially recognise the new Syrian opposition.
Hague said he had pressed Khatib and his two deputies, who are on their first visit to a Western capital since a united Syrian opposition was formed last weekend, on the need to be inclusive and respect human rights.
France, Turkey and the Gulf states have so far granted official recognition to the new Syrian grouping, and Hague said Britain was inclined to follow suit.
More than 39,000 people have died since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime erupted 20 months ago, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.