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January 28, 2022

EU considers amending arms embargo to Syria

The U.S. and Russian foreign ministers, John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov,
are expected to meet with their French counterpart in Paris to discuss the prospects for a Syrian peace conference.

European Union foreign ministers are discussing British and French calls for an easing of sanctions against Syria so weapons can be supplied to the rebels, the BBC reports. France and the UK are expected to argue that the move would increase pressure on Damascus for a political solution. However, several EU states are totally opposed to ending the arms embargo, which expires on 31 May. EU officials have warned against jeopardising a current initiative to hold an international peace conference. Syria’s foreign minister confirmed on Sunday that the government would “in principle” attend the conference which the US and Russia hope will take place in Geneva next month. Despite deep differences over the conflict – Washington has backed the opposition and called on Assad to step down – the United States and Russia have jointly launched the initiative for possible international talks in Geneva, RFE informs.
But no date for a conference, or its participants, has yet been agreed.Walid Muallem said it would be “a good opportunity for a political solution” to the conflict, which the UN says has left more than 80,000 people dead. Members of the main opposition coalition are currently discussing whether to attend the conference, but spokesmen have said they would if President Bashar al-Assad agreed to step down. Arriving for the talks in Brussels on Monday, several foreign ministers and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said it was vital to give the planned Geneva talks a chance. Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said first and foremost the EU had to “do everything to support as Europeans the American and Russian initiative”. Austria, in common with the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden. opposes arming the rebels. Its Foreign Minister, Michael Spindelegger, said the EU should remain as “a peace community by not being involved in such a conflict”.

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