US favorable on EU nations upping Syria rebel aid

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 15 2013 07:28 AM | Updated as of Mar 15 2013 03:28 PM

WASHINGTON - The United States may look favorably on plans from France and Britain to give more aid to Syrian rebel forces, the State Department said Thursday, without explicitly backing armed support.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said talks about easing an EU arms embargo came up during top US diplomat John Kerry's recent trip, but any decision would be for European nations to take, not Washington.

"We heard from some of those governments about their interest in lightening the EU arms embargo," Nuland said, noting the details had not yet been finalized.

"We're obviously not going to get in the middle of their internal discussions, but we certainly want to see as many governments as possible provide appropriate support to the Syrian opposition coalition."

French President Francois Hollande has urged Europe's leaders to lift an arms embargo on Syria to help rebels battling for two years to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Hollande spoke as London and Paris sought jointly to lift the embargo to enable them to arm the rebels, angering Damascus but drawing a cautious welcome from the opposition.

"Without getting too deeply into their internal processes, let me simply say that the kinds of support that the UK and France have spoken publicly about wanting to provide to the Syrian opposition we would certainly support," Nuland said.

But she reiterated that "we in the United States have made our own decision to provide only non-lethal assistance."

"Other countries are making other decisions," Nuland added. This is obviously a decision for the EU to make, but we understand that some governments do want to do more, and we encourage them to continue to have that conversation."

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