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Some G8 ministers to meet Syrian opposition in London

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Several G8 foreign ministers will meet senior Syrian opposition members this week in London on the sidelines of a ministerial meeting, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Tuesday.

His comments came after US Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed that he would be among those meeting the rebel representatives in the British capital.

Hague said he had already met Syrian rebel prime minister Ghassan Hitto and two senior members of the Syrian National Coalition on Tuesday and discussed with them the issue of arming the opposition.

"In the two days before the G8 meeting, today and tomorrow, I have invited Syrian opposition leaders, leaders of the National Coalition to london. I met them this morning," Hague told a briefing of foreign journalists in London.

"They will be able to meet with some of the G8 foreign ministers tomorrow before the G8 fully gathers. Again I will be joining and convening some of those meetings to discuss the urgent humanitarian needs and the urgent need for a political and diplomatic breakthrough on Syria."

The other rebel leaders he had met were Syrian National Coalition vice presidents George sabra and Soheir Atassi, Hague said.

He did not specify which ministers would meet with the SNC leaders, with Russia being highly unlikely to do so given its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Hague said Britain and France would continue to push for the lifting of an EU arms embargo to Syria so they can arm the rebels.

"We certainly believe it is necessary if the situation continues to deteriorate to increase the practical help we give to the Syrian opposition, to the National Coalition -- I have been discussing that directly with them this morning," he said.

Kerry on Tuesday said he would meet representatives of the Syrian opposition in London, speaking shortly before taking off from Israel for the British capital.

"I will be meeting with the Syrian opposition in London," he told reporters travelling with his delegation before departing from Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv after three days of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Hague said the meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of Eight industrialised nations would also discuss North Korea, Iran, Myanmar, Somalia, cybersecurity and the issue of preventing sexual violence in warzones.

The G8 foreign ministers -- from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States -- hold a dinner on Wednesday and formal talks on Thursday.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130409/some-g8-ministers-meet-syrian-opposition-london