France to raise Syrian arms embargo at EU summit

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – France will raise the issue of lifting a European Union embargo on supplying weapons to rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at an EU summit, President Francois Hollande said on Thursday.

“We want the Europeans to lift the embargo on the weapons … Since we have to put pressure on and show we are ready to support the opposition, we have to go that far. That is what I will tell my European colleagues,” he told reporters as he arrived for the summit.

“Britain and France agree on this option,” he said.

Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron met separately at the start of the summit to discuss Syria, Cameron’s spokeswoman said.

Britain and France have been pushing for an easing of the EU arms embargo to help the Syrian opposition but have run into resistance from other EU member states, including Germany, which fear more weapons will only fuel the conflict.

Hollande said France did not want Syria to go towards “total war” and believed a political transition must be the solution for Syria, but he said: “We must accept our responsibilities.”

(Reporting by Adrian Croft, Julien Ponthus, Peter Griffiths)

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