France's Fabius says Europe must drop Syria arms ban

PARIS Wed Mar 13, 2013 5:37pm EDT

France's Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius attends a news conference after a bilateral meeting at San Carlos Palace in Bogota February 25, 2013. Fabius is in Colombia on a two-day official visit. REUTERS/John Vizcaino

France's Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius attends a news conference after a bilateral meeting at San Carlos Palace in Bogota February 25, 2013. Fabius is in Colombia on a two-day official visit.

Credit: Reuters/John Vizcaino

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PARIS (Reuters) - French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius kept up his push on Wednesday for Europe to ditch a ban on supplying arms to Syria, saying stepping up help to the opposition was the only way to end the bloody two-year-old crisis.

"We must go further and allow the Syrian people to defend themselves against this bloody regime. It's our duty to help the Coalition, its leaders and the Free Syrian army by all means possible," Fabius wrote in the daily Liberation newspaper.

France and Britain want the European Union to amend an arms embargo on sending arms to Syria which is part of a package of sanctions that rolls over every three months but they face opposition, notably from Germany.

"We must convince our partners, particularly in Europe, that we no longer have any other choice than to lift the embargo on arms to benefit the Coalition," Fabius wrote in the article, timed to mark the conflict reaching two years.

"More than 70,000 dead and a million refugees, the systematic destruction of a country: the second anniversary of the launch of the Syrian revolution is an anniversary of blood and tears," he said.

After weeks of wrangling, Britain has persuaded the EU to agree to relax its embargo to allow non-lethal but quasi-military aid such as body armor and armored vehicles to be supplied to the Syrian opposition.

But Germany has warned that giving the rebels arms could lead to a proliferation of weapons in the volatile region and spark regional conflagration and a proxy war.

Britain has threatened to break with the embargo altogether, while France has said it will work to resolve the issue in the days ahead. A senior French official told Reuters that anti-aircraft missiles were among those weapons being considered for supply to rebel fighters in Syria.

(Reporting by John Irish; Writing by Catherine Bremer; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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Comments (2)
MikeBarnett wrote:
France wants to sell arms to improve its economy that only had a 0.2% GDP growth in 2012. With the reduction of forces in Afghanistan, France has weapons at reasonable prices to tempt the most discriminating, revolutionary tastes. When heroes stride forward to promote liberty, equality, and fraternity, they must look the part with the most sophisticated of equipment. If one appeared with last year’s assault rifle, it would be gauche and unseemly. The true heroic revolutionary must have the most fashionable accoutrements to make the correct impression for the elections that will follow victory. Serious Syrian revolutionaries should make their cheques payable to the French treasury to obtain the best weapons to make the finest impressions on the rabble that will follow true revolutionary leaders.

Mar 13, 2013 6:41pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
MikeBarnett wrote:
France wants to sell arms to improve its economy that only had a 0.2% GDP growth in 2012. With the reduction of forces in Afghanistan, France has weapons at reasonable prices to tempt the most discriminating, revolutionary tastes. When heroes stride forward to promote liberty, equality, and fraternity, they must look the part with the most sophisticated of equipment. If one appeared with last year’s assault rifle, it would be gauche and unseemly. The true heroic revolutionary must have the most fashionable accoutrements to make the correct impression for the elections that will follow victory. Serious Syrian revolutionaries should make their cheques payable to the French treasury to obtain the best weapons to make the finest impressions on the rabble that will follow true revolutionary leaders.

Mar 13, 2013 6:45pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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