France asks EU to consider 'humanitarian corridors' in Syria
France will ask its EU partners to consider setting up humanitarian corridors in Syria, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Thursday after talks with an exiled Syrian opposition leader.
Juppe said France considered Burhan Ghaliun's Syrian National Council a "legitimate interlocutor" and he would take to Brussels the idea of protected escape routes for Syrian civilians fleeing the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
"We examined the question of humanitarian corridors and I will ask the next meeting of the European Council to put this point on its agenda," Juppe said.
"If there could be a humanitarian dimension to the zones, which could be secured, to protect the population, that's a question that must be studied with the European Union and the Arab League," he said.
There have been reports that Turkey and NATO allies such as France are considering imposing a no-fly zone and a buffer zone on Syrian territory to give the opposition breathing space while it organises its revolt.
No official source has gone this far, however, and Juppe's statement was the first sign that something of the sort might be envisaged.
"The Syrian National Council is the legitimate interlocutor, and we will continue to work with it," Juppe said, stopping short of formally recognising the body and stressing that it must be inclusive.
"We are working on a formal recognition with the Arab League and all of our allies," Juppe said.
The SNC headed by Paris-based Ghaliun is one of at least four Syrian opposition movements, but is seen as the most representative and claims to speak for activists both inside and outside the country.
© 2011 AFP