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France

Hollande to meet Syrian rebel leaders as France considers sending arms

media Syrian National Coalition leader Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib Reuters/Asmaa Waguih

French President François Hollande will meet the new head of Syria's opposition, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, in Paris on Saturday. And Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says he will ask the European Union to review its arms embargo on the rebels.

Hollande will receive Syrian National Coalition leaders Khatib and Georges Sabra, the Elysée presidential palace announced Thursday. The invitation comes after Tuesday’s announcement that France had recognised the group as the sole representative of the Syrian people.

It was the first Western country to do so.

Paris will raise the issue of excluding “defensive weapons” from the European arms embargo on Syria, Fabius told RTL radio on Thursday.

"The issue will be raised because the coalition has asked us to do so," he said, adding, "This is something that we can only do in coordination with the Europeans."

France's position “for the moment” is not to militarise the conflict, he said, “but it is obviously unacceptable that there are liberated zones and that they be bombarded by Bashar [al-Assad]'s planes".

Khatib on Tuesday called on world powers to arm the Syrian rebels with "specialised eapons".

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