Foreign ministers of both France and Britain ran into opposition at a meeting of their EU counterparts in Dublin as they pushed for a lifting of the arms embargo to help Syrian rebels.
Germany, Austria and Sweden remain opposed fearing the weapons could arm Islamist militants – a fear the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius acknowledged:
“If we lift the embargo it is to to unblock the political situation, to help the resistance fighters so that they can stop Bashar al-Assad’s bombings. Obviously, guarantees are needed to ensure these weapons do not fall in hostile hands.”
But opponents of the idea who also believe lifting the ban would shift the emphasis away from finding a political solution, are sceptical of any assurances:
“Nobody can give a guarantee that weapons delivered to the opposition in Syria will end up in the right hands. Nobody can guarantee that and this is one of the main concerns from other partners,” said Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger
France and Britain want at the very least the ban to be modified when EU sanctions on Syria come up for renewal on June 1st.
Reporting from Dublin for euronews, Audrey Tilve said:
“This was an informal meeting so no decision has been taken. After opening the debate London and Paris tried to convince their partners, while at the same time softening their position. Now the talk is changing from trying to lift the embargo to trying to amend it.”