France, UK to Arm Syrian Rebels without EU Support

Al Arabiya15.03.2013 Syria
France, UK to Arm Syrian Rebels without EU Support

France, UK to Arm Syrian Rebels without EU Support

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France and Britain are prepared to arm Syrian rebels even without unanimous EU support, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Thursday.


Paris and London will call for moving up the date of the next European Union meeting on the Syria arms embargo, and will decide to arm the rebels if the EU does not give unanimous agreement, he said.

The UK has been pushing for this alongside France.

“We've just amended [the arms embargo] so we can supply non-lethal equipment. I hope we can persuade our European partners, if and when a further change becomes necessary, they'll agree with us. But if we can't then it's not out of the question that we might have to do things in our own way. It's possible,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday.

Cameron made his remarks after being asked by the Chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee whether he was prepared to veto the EU arms embargo when it’s reviewed in May.

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Wednesday also called for lifting the EU arms embargo.

“It's our duty to help the Coalition, its leaders and the Free Syrian Army by all means possible,” Fabius wrote in the daily Liberation newspaper.

France and Britain want the European Union to amend the arms ban to Syria, which is part of a package of sanctions that rolls over every three months.

“We must convince our partners, particularly in Europe, that we no longer have any other choice than to lift the embargo on arms to benefit the Coalition,” Fabius wrote in the article, timed to mark the conflict reaching two years.

After weeks of wrangling, Britain has persuaded the EU to agree to relax its embargo to allow non-lethal but quasi-military aid such as body armor and armored vehicles to be supplied to the Syrian opposition.

But Germany has warned that giving arms to rebels could lead to a proliferation of weapons in the volatile region and spark regional conflagration and a proxy war.

Russia has warned that supplying Syrian rebels with arms would breach international law.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said, “International law does not allow, does not permit supplies of arms to non-governmental actors and in our point of view it is a violation of international law.”

 

Source: Al Arabiya; Agencies - Photo: Reuters

 

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