EU's Ashton: Caution on lifting arms ban for Syria rebels

By REUTERS
March 16, 2013 14:37

BRUSSELS - The European Union's foreign policy chief urged caution on Saturday about a Franco-British drive to lift an EU arms embargo to help rebels in Syria, questioning the impact such a step might have on attempts to reach a political settlement there.

Other EU governments rebuffed efforts by Paris and London at an EU summit on Friday to lift the Syrian arms embargo to help opponents of President Bashar Assad, although they asked foreign ministers to discuss it again next week.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the EU needed to think "very carefully" about French and British arguments that lifting the embargo would encourage Assad to negotiate.

The EU should also consult UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi and and Moaz al-Khatib, head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, about what impact lifting the embargo might have on their efforts to start talks to end the Syria crisis, she said.


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