BRUSSELS - France is floating a proposal that the European Union ease an arms embargo for Syrian rebels but delay acting on the decision to intensify pressure on Damascus to negotiate an end to Syria's civil war, a French diplomat said on Wednesday.

Sweden, Austria and some other EU member states are resisting efforts by France and Britain to modify the ban to strengthen rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The embargo is part of a package of EU sanctions on Syria that expires on June 1. EU foreign ministers will discuss the issue on May 27 and it could come up at an EU summit on May 22.

The French diplomat's suggestion that the arms embargo could be linked to the outcome of a new initiative from the United States and Russia for a diplomatic solution in Syria appears designed to win support for the French-British proposal.

It would effectively introduce a brake on the lifting of the arms embargo, allowing for it to take effect only if the proposed peace conference in Geneva next month fails.

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