‘Friends of Syria’ to meet in UK next week

Western and Gulf nations opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will hold their latest meeting in London on May 15

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Western and Arab states opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will hold their latest “Friends of Syria” meeting in London on May 15, the UK Foreign Office said on Tuesday.

The core group of the 11 countries will discuss ways of boosting aid to the Syrian opposition and also the political situation ahead of a widely criticized presidential election in June, the Foreign Office said in a statement posted on its Website.

“This meeting comes at a time of widespread indiscriminate regime violence against civilians, plans to hold elections which will be a grotesque parody of democracy, and the regime’s complete failure to provide humanitarian access,” the statement said.

“Now is the right time for those countries who support a democratic future for Syria, free from Assad, to come together to do discuss how we press forward with this aim.”

British Foreign Secretary William Hague will host the talks, which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to attend.

“Foreign Ministers will discuss how best to significantly step up our support to the Syrian opposition, make urgent progress on improving the deteriorating humanitarian crisis and reinvigorate a political process that has stalled due to regime intransigence,” according to the statement.

The 11 nations include Western powers the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Italy as well as key regional opponents of Assad: Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Arab powers Egypt and Jordan are also part of the group, which does not include Assad’s allies Russia and Iran.

[With AFP]