UK needs details before any recognition of Syria opposition

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 16, 2012 3:40 AM
UK needs details before any recognition of Syria opposition

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain needs more details from the fledgling Syria opposition coalition before it can formally recognize the group, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Friday ahead of talks with Syrian opposition officials.

The coalition was formed in Doha on Sunday in an attempt to unify Syria's opposition groups and boost their chances of securing international recognition and arms.

France on Tuesday became the first European power to recognize the group, led by moderate Sunni Muslim cleric Mouaz Alkhatib, who with other Syrian opposition officials is expected to meet Hague in London later on Friday.

"We would like to be able to be in a position to recognize them as the sole legitimate representatives of the Syrian people, but I do want to hear more about their plans," Hague told BBC radio, "About who they are going to appoint, particular positions, about whether the Kurds will be included, how much support they have inside Syria."

He said he might be able to make a decision on whether to recognize the group "in the coming days".

French President Francois Hollande will meet Syrian opposition officials in Paris on Saturday. The French foreign minister said on Thursday that France would in the coming weeks discuss supplying arms to Syrian opposition forces.

Hague told the BBC that Britain's National Security Council, which met on Thursday, had discussed giving military aid to the Syrian opposition, but that Britain had not changed its position and would continue to supply only non-lethal assistance.

(Reporting by Mohammed Abbas and Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Alison Williams and Robert Woodward)