U.K. would 'like to' OK Syrian opposition

Nov. 16, 2012 at 1:12 PM
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LONDON, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- British Foreign Secretary William Hague said his county would "like to be able" to recognize a Syrian opposition council as representative of the Syrian people.

On Thursday, the Turkish government became the latest to recognize the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, formed last weekend in Qatar, as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

This week brought similar statements of support from the French government as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League, two regional political alliances.

Hague said he hosted members of the opposition council in order to "meet them myself" before London follows suit.

"We would like to be able at an early stage to recognize them as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people," he said in a statement. "If we are going to take that important step of recognition we should do so in full possession of the facts and on the basis of discussions with them."

The U.S. government, which had called for more opposition unity, welcomed the formation of the council but hasn't formally recognized the group as the sole representative of the Syrian people.

Mark Toner, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said the government was "very clear" that wasn't ready to recognize the opposition. "We want to see it continue to develop," he told reporters during his regular press briefing.

Hague said members of the European Union were meeting Monday in Brussels to discuss any further offers of assistance to the Syrian council.

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