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"Friends of Syria" London meeting agrees to increase support for Syrian opposition
Foreign ministers from countries of the "London 11" Core Group of the "Friends of Syria" on Thursday agreed to offer more support for the Syrian opposition National Coalition, the ministers said in a joint communique.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague hosted the "Friends of Syria" London meeting Thursday, attended by 11 foreign ministers, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and Syrian opposition leader Ahmad Jarba.
"We have agreed unanimously to take further steps together, through a coordinated strategy, to increase our support for the moderate opposition National Coalition, its Supreme Military Council and associated moderate armed groups," the ministers said in the communique.
The ministers also agreed to counter the rising forces of extremism, complete the removal of Syria's chemical weapons, and step up efforts to deliver humanitarian aid across borders.
"We have directed our officials to implement a Core Group action plan," the communique said.
Meanwhile, the ministers denounced the Syrian government's plan to hold presidential elections on June 3, accusing the elections as "illegitimate."
"Under rules set by the regime, such elections will be devoid of political participation of millions of Syrians. We call on the entire international community to reject these illegitimate elections, as the Arab League, United Nations, United States of America, Turkey and the European Union have already done," the communique noted.
"This mocks the innocent lives lost in the conflict, utterly contradicts the Geneva communique and is a parody of democracy," it said.
Russia said Thursday the Syrian presidential elections could be a step toward settlement of that country's enduring crisis, and called for timely removal of chemical weapons.
"The upcoming elections should mark an important step in preserving and developing Syria's statehood, accommodating the legitimate aspirations of the citizens," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters.
The campaign for the Syrian presidential elections officially kicked off on Sunday, marking the first time in the 40-year rule of the Assad family that Syrians are able to witness campaigns for other candidates other than incumbent President Bashar al-Assad for the presidency.
The multi-candidate poll is a result of the recent 2012 constitution that puts an end to Syria's one candidate referendums.
While the exiled Syrian opposition groups have boycotted the vote and dismissed it as a "farce," some politicians inside Syria have seen the presidential elections as a "positive step."
[Source: Xinhua, London, 15May14]
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