ITALY HAS FORMALLY recognised the newly-formed opposition National Coalition as “legitimate representatives” of the Syrian people, Italian prime minister Mario Monti has said.
“We have recognised the coalition that brings together the various opposition groups as legitimate representatives of the Syrian people,” Monti told reporters in Doha, based on an Arabic translation of his remarks.
France had so far been the only Western country to recognise the National Coalition, formed on November 11 after extensive talks in Qatar, as the sole representative of the Syrian people.
It has also announced a decision to host an opposition ambassador and said it would ask the European Union to approve a proposal to arm the rebels.
In an interview with Doha-based Al-Jazeera English, Monti, who is on a tour of Gulf states, said that supporting the arming of Syrian rebels “is not a straightforward implication of the recognition aspect”.
“That of course needs to take into consideration many other factors as well,” he said according to a transcript of the interview received by AFP.
Monti today discussed “bilateral relations” as well as “regional and international developments” with top Qatari officials, according to Qatar News Agency.
The six rich Gulf Cooperation Council states, the Arab League, as well as Turkey have also officially recognised the Syrian opposition bloc as the Syrian people’s legitimate representative.
The National Coalition aims to present a united front to the international community and is lobbying for weapons aid to help topple the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.