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Clinton renews support of new Syrian opposition group

06 december 2012, 18:39
0
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed fresh support Wednesday for a new coalition of Syrian opposition groups seeking to counter the Assad regime, AFP reports.

Although the United States has not yet formally recognized the group, known as the National Coalition, it could announce such a decision at the Friends of Syria international meeting Clinton is set to attend next Wednesday in Morocco.

"Now that there is a new opposition formed, we are going to be doing what we can to support that opposition," Clinton told reporters in Brussels.

"I'm looking forward to the Friends of the Syrian People meeting next week in Marrakesh, where we will explore with like-minded countries what more we can do to try bring this conflict to an end."

Privately, US officials have said that President Barack Obama's administration would likely go ahead and recognize the group at some point.

But they are pressing for the coalition to first strengthen its political structure to offer a credible alternative to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.

Last month, France became the first Western nation to formally recognize the group as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

Britain, Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council followed suit, but the coalition has failed to win universal backing because of doubts about whether it is genuinely representative of all sectors of Syrian society.

Washington has so far only provided humanitarian, non-lethal aid to the rebels, officially declining any arm shipments.

But Obama warned Assad on Monday that there would be "consequences" should Assad turn chemical weapons on his own people, amid concerns his forces were mixing deadly sarin gas.

The Marrakesh meeting will come during Clinton's December 11-14 tour to Morocco, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi.

In Morocco, she will meet with King Mohammed VI to discuss bilateral and regional concerns, her office said.

Clinton will visit Tunisia on December 13 to participate in a government forum, as tensions have plunged the country into a political impasse in the run-up to the second anniversary of the national revolution.

The top US diplomat, who is set to leave her post in January, will conclude her trip on December 14 to participate in the third ministerial meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum. She is also set to meet with senior Emirati officials.

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