|Date: 25/05/2012 Time: 04:16:00 PM
France is still preparing to host a "Friends of
Syria" meeting here and is planning contacts with a variety of partners for
this event, although no firm date has yet been settled for the gathering.
Diplomats indicated Friday that much would depend on an expected contact
early next week between Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and UN-Arab League
special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan.
The envoy's evaluation of the situation on the ground will be an important
factor in deciding the way forward, diplomats said.
But sources also pointed out that there is "daily shelling" by Syrian
security forces and there appears little to indicate that the Annan six-point
plan is being implemented.
France wants that plan to be the foundation of ongoing solutions and a
conference in Paris is unlikely to stray from that position.
Diplomats again said that as long as the regime "keeps massacring its
people" the Annan plan cannot be viewed as being respected.
Meanwhile, officials here confirmed that France had taken part on Thursday
in a separate meeting process on reconstruction in Syria.
French ambassador to Syria, Eric Chevallier, travelled to Abu Dhabi to take
part in the conference, it was indicated here. It was also stressed that this
was unrelated to the "Friends of Syria" meetings for which Paris was the next
venue which was agreed at earlier meetings, first in Tunis and later in
About 80 countries form the "Friends" group and there is also participation
by a number of organisations.
The participants have broadly backed the Syrian National Council (SNC)
opposition group and have called on all opposition groups to work with the SNC
to try to form a more unified front against the regime of Bashar Al-Assad.
But the resignation of Council president Burhan Al-Ghalioun earlier this
week is viewed as a blow to the SNC, particularly as Ghalioun was well-viewed
and listened to by the French.
The ex-President of the SNC complained about the lack of action by his
colleagues in the Council.