Syria’s newly named opposition leader, Mouaz AlKhatib, told Reuters on Tuesday he wanted European recognition and financial support for the new Syrian opposition coalition, saying this would allow it to act as a government and acquire arms.
“I request the European states to politically recognize the coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and to give it financial support,” AlKhatib said in a phone interview.
“When we get the political recognition, this will make the coalition act as a government and hence acquire weapons and this will solve our problems,” AlKhatib added.
On Monday the Arab League and the six-nation Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) said the new opposition bloc was the legitimate and represented the Syrian people. They also urged the international community to recognize the new unified opposition bloc.
The GCC aims to “put an end to the suffering of the Syrian people through rapid political transition and a halt to the bloodshed,” GCC chief Abdel Latif al-Zayani said in a statement Tuesdday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is to meet on Wednesday in Riyadh with Arab foreign ministers of the Gulf for talks expected to highlight their differences on the Syrian conflict.
Russia and China both wield vetoes at the U.N. Security Council still back the Syrian regime.
Meanwhile, France will support a new Syrian opposition bloc, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Tuesday after talks with its leaders in Cairo, where EU diplomats were meeting with their Arab counterparts.
“Now they are united, it’s very important... France will support them,” AFP reported Fabius saying to reporters.
Following marathon talks in Doha, Syrian opposition groups agreed on Sunday to unite under the umbrella of the new National Council headed by moderate Muslim cleric Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib.
Fabius met with both Khatib and George Sabra, the head of the Syrian National Council, a powerful opposition grouping which finally agreed to join the wider, more representative bloc.
Fabius fell short of a formal recognition of the new coalition but underlined that Paris had "always been at the forefront" of support for the Syrian opposition which he said had "reached a very important step" by uniting.
The French top diplomat is in Cairo for a meeting of European and Arab foreign ministers at the Arab League headquarters.
EU Foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who addressed Tuesday’s opening session at the League, welcomed the Doha agreement but warned of a spillover of the conflict which has killed more than 37,000 since March 2011, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“I want to welcome the work done in Doha to build and bring together the opposition, to be inclusive of the people in Syria to be determined in the offer they make to the people,” Ashton told delegates.
“But the tragedy of Syria is a tragedy that affects not just that country but the whole region,” she said.
“Countries represented here know the challenges of refugees fleeing for their lives, the threat of the overspill of violence,” she added.