May 27. - EU Foreign Ministers meet in Brussels to try and resolve their differences over an extension of the Syrian arms embargo. Rough Cut (No Reporter Narration).
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EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday were at odds with Britain and Austria over whether the European Union should ease an arms embargo to help Syrian rebels, leaving ministers struggling to find a compromise on the bloc's Syria policy.
Britain and France are pushing hard for the easing of the arms embargo to support rebels ahead of a peace conference sponsored by the United States and Russia expected next month.
Austria leads the camp of five of the EU's 27 governments firmly opposed to sending arms that they believe could deepen the two-year-old Syrian conflict that has cost 80,000 lives.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF, CATHERINE ASHTON SAYING:
"This would be an opportunity for member states to discuss how they want to go forward. You know there are strong views in favour of trying to find a way that Europe can demonstrate not only that it is united, but also that it has a good and strong position to take forward."
(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER, WILLIAM HAGUE SAYING:
"We've tried on all previous occasions on this to make sure that there is still a common EU policy. But of course if we can't have one in the future then each country will have to ensure it has its own sanctions or the sanctions regime will have to be reconstructed, for the future. But, let me emphasise, we're looking for common ground in this meeting. Of course it is preferable to keep that policy together, if we can."
All EU sanctions on Syria could collapse unless the EU can agree unanimously on what to do about the arms embargo before it expires on June 1.
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