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France, Britain renew push to lift EU's Syria arms embargo

brussels bureau

France, Britain renew push to lift EU's Syria arms embargo


France and Britain are urging their fellow EU members to lift an arms embargo on Syria’s opposition.

Yet many states, such as Austria, oppose a total scrapping of the ban, which expires on Friday.

Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger stressed Vienna remained opposed to such a move.

He said of the European Union: We are a peace community and we would like to stay as a peace community.”

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders criticised Hezbollah’s involvement in the conflict, and hinted his country may support listing the organisation as a terrorist group.

“The presence of Hezbollah poses more and more problems not only in Syria but also in other countries in the region,” he said. “We must raise the question of the separation that we can make between the political branch and the armed group, the terrorist group on the ground.”

The Netherlands and Germany are working to find a compromise, the German foreign minister told journalists.

“The positions are wide apart,” Mr. Westerwelle said. “We want to build a bridge because if we want to have influence in Syria, we will only have that if we are as united as possible.”

Britain and France argue the EU should allow the supply of arms to ‘moderate’ rebels.

Yet their opponents say there is no guarantee that those weapons will not fall into the wrong hands.

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brussels bureau