Syria opposition chief to meet French president

Syria opposition chief to meet French president
Fri Jul 19, 2013 18:28:27

The foreign-backed Syria opposition president Ahmad Assi Jarba set to meet French President Francois Hollande next week as he embarks on a tour of Western capitals, a source in Hollande's office said on Friday.

Jarba, a Saudi-linked member who elected the head of the main opposition Syrian National Council on July 6, will meet Hollande next Wednesday, the source told AFP.

Jarba will be in Paris on Tuesday and Wednesday. The source said he was also travelling to London, Washington and Berlin, but provided no further details.

Jarba, who is part of a faction of veteran secular dissidents and is seen as close to Saudi Arabia, has criticized some rebels' links with Islamist groups.

"It is really this centrist, moderate opposition... that we are trying to strengthen," a French diplomatic source said.

Hollande will give Jarba "a message of support, of French investment in the search for a political solution in Syria, of commitment at every level," the source said.

Jarba was previously in charge of trying to obtain weapons for the foreign backed militant groups.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Jarba is hindering attempts to hold the proposed Geneva talks, which aim to find a political solution to the crisis in Syria.

Ahmad Assi Jarba, the new SNC leader, said on July 7 that the foreign-backed opposition group would not attend the conference - planned by the United States and Russia - unless the militants make military advances on the ground first.

NJF/NJF

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