France tempers call for Syria aid corridor

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France renewed its support for humanitarian corridors in Syria on Thursday but said such a move would have to either be agreed by Damascus or come under an international mandate.

Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Wednesday that France would ask its EU partners to consider the idea of setting up protected escape routes for Syrian civilians fleeing the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

He told France Inter radio on Thursday that there were two different scenarios for such a move.

"The first is that the international community, the United Nations, the Arab League, can obtain authorisation from the regime for the humanitarian corridors," he said.

"If that wasn't the case, we would have to consider other solutions. It is possible to protect convoys, but we are not there yet," he said.

"For us no humanitarian intervention is possible without an international mandate," he said, adding that an international military intervention in Syria was not yet being considered.

Juppe met Wednesday in Paris with the opposition Syrian National Council leader Burhan Ghaliun.

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 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.

The SNC headed by Paris-based Ghaliun is one of at least four Syrian opposition movements.

© 2011 AFP

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