Middle East

Qatar says arming Syrian rebels could help forge peace

Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani speaks during a joint press conference with Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil following their meeting with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo on January 8, 2013. (AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)

DOHA: Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani called on Saturday for arms deliveries to the Syrian rebels to create a military balance that could help in forging peace.

A peaceful end "cannot be reached unless a balance on the ground is achieved, in order to force the regime to sit down to talks," he told ministers in Doha for a "Friends of Syria" gathering.

"Getting arms and using them could be the only way to achieve peace," he added.

Foreign ministers of governments that support the Syrian opposition met in Qatar on Saturday for talks on boosting their assistance after rebels hailed recent deliveries of new weapons.

Ahead of the talks, Louay Muqdad, a spokesman for the rebel Free Syria Army, told AFP it had new types of weaponry that could give it the edge in the 27-month conflict.

However, Sheikh Hamad also voiced support for the holding of a peace conference in Geneva proposed jointly by Washington and Moscow.

"Of course, we support holding a Geneva conference II to achieve a peaceful power transition through the formation of a transitional government that would enjoy full powers," he said.

But he insisted "no role would be for Bashar al-Assad and aides with bloodstained hands" in the future government.

He also accused Assad's regime of wanting to block the Geneva conference in order to stay in power.

"The regime will work endlessly to prevent the convening of the conference or to make sure it fails, because... it is only interested in staying in power, even if that costs one million dead, millions of displaced and refugees, and the destruction of Syria and its (territorial) partition," he said.

 

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