France wants Syria humanitarian access

Jul 24, 2013, 5:22 PM EDT
France's president Francois Hollande, right, accompanies Syria National Coallition president Ahmed al-Jarba after their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Wednesday, July 24, 2013.
(AP Photo/Francois Mori)

PARIS (AP) — France pushed Wednesday for humanitarian corridors in Syria, a bid that is unlikely to win U.N. Security Council support but is part of a diplomatic game aiming at pressuring Russia.

French President Francois Hollande met in Paris with a delegation of the opposition Syrian National Coalition and said France is working on "corridors that will possibly be opened to give necessary aid to the population."

Such corridors, presumably guarded by international forces, would need the approval of a resolution of the Security Council. Russia and China have already vetoed three Western-backed resolutions aimed at pressuring Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

The council has been deeply divided over Syria since the conflict began 2 1/2 years ago, with Russia and China supporting the Syrian regime. The violence in Syria has killed over 93,000 people, according to the United Nations.

But Western diplomats are trying to put pressure on Russia ahead of an international conference in Geneva to try to agree on a transitional government.

The president of the Syrian National Coalition, Ahmed al-Jarba, said the delegation was "happy to hear the French president speaking of humanitarian aid, of the possibility of humanitarian corridors or access."

Hollande also discussed of the delegation's demand to deliver weapons to its combatants, in the presence of General Salim Idris, the chief of staff of the coalition's army.

After Paris, the coalition was heading to New York, where Britain is organizing an informal meeting of the Security Council on Friday.