U.S. may recognize Syrian opposition group

Nov. 30, 2012 at 11:01 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The United States is moving toward recognizing the recently formed opposition coalition as the legitimate representative for Syria's people, officials said.

A decision to recognize the umbrella organization National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces could be announced at a Friends of Syria meeting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to attend in Morocco Dec. 12, The New York Times reported.

"They are a legitimate representative of the Syrian people's aspirations," Robert Ford, U.S. ambassador to Syria, said Thursday during a conference on the Syrian humanitarian crisis. "They are making real progress and I expect that our position will evolve as they themselves develop."

Meetings to discuss the issue haven't been held nor has President Obama signed off on the matter, the officials told the Times.

Britain, France, Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council have already recognized the opposition organization, which was expanded and revised during a meeting last month in Doha, Qatar, at the insistence of the United States and other nations.

The group is comprised of about 60 members -- representatives from each of Syria's major cities. It is developing a series of committees on humanitarian assistance, education, health, judicial and security issues.

If opposition leaders can demonstrate the group is a functioning body during the Friends meeting in Morocco, the United States may announce it recognizes the organization, the U.S. official told the Times.

"We've been looking for them to establish a leadership structure that's clear to everybody, but also discrete committees that can deal with the various issues that they are assuming responsibility for," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Thursday. "We don't want to get ahead of the game here."

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