Belfast Telegraph

Gilmore: Syria arms 'not helpful'

Britain is hoping to avoid a split over Syria as EU foreign ministers meet in Dublin.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was focused on avoiding a split over whether an arms embargo on Syrian rebels should be lifted.

But Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore outlined the Ireland's fierce opposition to delivering weapons to Syria.

Mr Hague said discussions will centre on making sure there is agreement across the bloc on the contentious issue.

He said: "This is not a decision-making meeting on Syrian sanctions. There will be further meetings over the coming weeks. As it stands with Syria, there is a very strong case for lifting the arms embargo. My French colleague has just been speaking about this. He is of a similar mind."

A European Union embargo remains in place preventing the arming of the opposition to President Bashar Assad's regime. However, pressure has heightened this week in the wake of the reported use of chemical weapons.

Any prospect of a pan-European agreement on arming rebels remains distant.

Mr Gilmore said more guns would lead to more casualties, and that EU ministers should focus on a political solution to the crisis.

He said: "I think further militarisation in Syria would certainly not be helpful. The more guns, the more arms that go into Syria, the more casualties there will be."

Mr Gilmore said protecting civilians should be a priority. "We need to support a political solution, a peaceful solution, and we need to ensure that humanitarian aid will be permitted to be provided to the people of Syria," the Tanaiste added.


From Belfast Telegraph