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France says too early to recognise Syrian opposition coalition

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 13 Nov 2012 11:15 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Corrects quote in fifth paragraph)

PARIS, Nov 13 (Reuters) - France's Defence Minister said on Tuesday it was still too early to recognise the newly created Syrian opposition coalition, calling for more to be done to unite the armed factions under its umbrella.

Leaders of Syria's exiled opposition formed the coalition in Qatar's capital Doha on Sunday and the grouping is now seeking international recognition as a government-in-waiting.

Paris, one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's harshest critics, has said it would recognise a provisional government that included all strands of society.

But it has ruled out arming rebel forces, concerned weapons could get into the hands of radical Islamists.

"What happened in Doha is a step forward," Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters in Paris. "We consider it to be significant. It is still not sufficient to constitute a provisional government that can be recognised internationally. But it's on the right track."

He said that while political unity was important it had to be accompanied by the unification of the various armed groups. (Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Leigh Thomas and Pravin Char)

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