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France wants talks on listing Al-Nusra as 'terrorists'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

France said Tuesday that it wanted to hold talks with its European partners and in the UN Security Council on whether to list Syria's Al-Nusra Front rebel group as a terrorist organisation.

The move came after Al-Qaeda in neighbouring Iraq confirmed that it had spawned and supervised the Al-Nusra Front, one of the key rebel spearheads in the armed uprising against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.

"We need to have a discussion with our European partners and partners in the Security Council on the possible inclusion of these extremist groups on the list of terrorists," French foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot told a press conference.

"We must be careful when taking such decisions of the consequences this can have on the ground. We will see in the days and weeks to come what must be done," he said.

Washington already blacklisted Al-Nusra as a terrorist organisation earlier this year, citing its close links to Al-Qaeda fighters who led the insurgency against US forces in Iraq before their withdrawal last year.

The head of Al-Qaeda's front group in Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, confirmed on Tuesday that Al-Nusra was its creation and that its leader Abu Mohammed al-Jawlani was "one of our soldiers".

France and Britain have pushed for the lifting of a European embargo on arms deliveries to Syria so weapons can be supplied to the rebels, but Lalliot said concerns remained they would fall into the hands of extremists.

"If we do deliver arms, it will be with the guarantee that will end up in the hands of Syrian opposition fighters who seem to share the values" of Western countries, Lalliot said.

"We do not currently have these absolute guarantees and this is the subject of talks that we are having with the (opposition) Syrian National Coalition and our European partners," he said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130409/france-wants-talks-listing-al-nusra-terrorists