Tunisia and Libya delay recognizing Syrian opposition

TUNIS Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:56pm EST

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisia and Libya will both hold off on recognizing a new Syrian opposition body until they know more about its make-up, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki said on Thursday.

The Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces was set up on November 11 under Western and Gulf Arab pressure, to unite diverse opposition voices.

Britain, France, Turkey and Gulf Arab countries have all recognized the coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. Washington has pledged to work with the coalition, but stopped short of fully recognizing it.

"We and Libya are in agreement that we will wait before recognizing. We need to have a real idea about the representation on this body," Marzouki told reporters at a news conference during a visit by Libyan leader Mohammed Magarief.

Separately, Marzouki said he would visit the Gaza Strip after a ceasefire between Israel and the Islamist militant group Hamas held firm on Thursday with scenes of joy among the ruins in Gaza over what Palestinians hailed as a victory.

"I congratulate Ismail Haniyeh (the Hamas prime minister) on the victory in Gaza," Marzouki said. "And I have told him I want to visit Gaza soon and open a Tunisian school there."

"Tunisia and Libya agree that there should be an Arab summit to support Palestine."

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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