EU urges Syrian opposition to work with Arab League
The European Union urged the Syrian opposition on Tuesday to work closely with the Arab League towards democratic transition and said anti-government groups needed an "inclusive" political platform, Today's Zaman reported.
The EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton held talks on Tuesday with the Syrian National Council (SNC) as part of intensifying European contacts with opposition groups.
"She welcomed the ongoing efforts by the Syrian opposition to establish a united platform and to work for a shared vision for the future of Syria and the transition to a democratic system," Ashton's spokesman, Michael Mann, said.
"She also highlighted the importance of an inclusive opposition political platform taking in all religious and ethnic communities," he said.
The EU has not yet recognised the council or any other Syrian opposition group as representative of anti-government groups contesting the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
EU diplomats have argued opposition in Syria was too fragmented and lacked the clear political platform that allowed them to engage more closely this year with Libyan rebels who eventually toppled Muammar Gaddafi. There were also concerns about participation of Islamists groups in the opposition.
But EU governments have imposed extensive sanctions such as an oil embargo to put financial pressure on Assad to halt a violent crackdown on protests and give up power. The United Nations says 3,500 people have been killed since the protests erupted in March.
Further EU measures are likely to be formally approved at the next meeting of EU foreign ministers on Dec. 1.
The Arab League has also put pressure on Assad and its deadline for him to pull the military out of urban centres, free political prisoners and start a dialogue under the 22-member group's initiative to end the bloodshed in Syria expired at the weekend.
But Assad said in an interview published on Sunday he would not bow to international pressure to stop the crackdown.
"The High Representative encouraged the SNC to continue to engage with the Arab League to support its efforts towards a successful transition," her spokesman said.