Syrian coalition to name ambassador to France

French President François Hollande and the chief of Syria’s opposition coalition announced plans on Saturday to install a new Syrian ambassador to France, after the pair held talks in Paris.


Syria’s opposition coalition is to appoint an envoy to France, French President François Hollande said after meeting the head of the Syrian National Coalition on Saturday.

The move came after talks between Hollande and Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib at the Elysée presidential palace in Paris.The new ambassador is to be Mounzir Makhous, an academic.

A French diplomatic source told Reuters that Makhous would act as a representative of the coalition, becoming ambassador once a provisional government is established and recognised internationally.

Hollande welcomed al-Khatib to Paris just four days after France became the first Western power to officially recognise the alliance.

The president, who on Tuesday described the coalition as “a legitimate representative of the Syrian people”, was joined for the talks by France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

EU arms embargo to be discussed

Speaking after the meeting, Hollande also said 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.

Hollande also confirmed that his foreign minister will raise the issue of lifting the EU arms embargo against Syria at a meeting Monday in Brussels among European Union foreign ministers.

Fabius has suggested supplying defensive weapons so Syrian rebels can protect themselves from attacks by the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad.

Before the talks the Elysée aides said the discussions would focus on examining “ways and means to protect Syria's liberated zones and how to get humanitarian assistance to refugees”.

The need to establish a provisional government was also on the agenda according to the Elysée.

Britain, US yet to recognise opposition

France has taken the lead in efforts to oust Assad's regime, and Hollande reiterated Saturday that the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces is for France the sole representative of the Syrian people and a future provisional government.


On Friday al-Khatib met with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in London but Hague has so far declined to officially recognise the new Syrian opposition.

Although the foreign secretary described the talks as “encouraging” he said he would make a decision on whether to recognise the coalition in the coming days.

The United States, for its part, is less enthusiastic towards the opposition and does not consider the coalition as a representative of the Syrian people.

Germany has stipulated certain conditions before it recognises the opposition, asking the coalition to make “clear commitments to democracy, the rule of law and ethnic and religious pluralism”.

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.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)



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