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Western powers support Syrian opposition

France has recognized the newly united Syrian opposition as the only representative of the Syrian people. Germany also announced its support while the US stopped short of a complete endorsement.

French President Francois Hollande announced Tuesday that France recognizes the National Coalition of the Syrian Powers of Revolution and Opposition as the sole representative of the Syrian people and the future provisional government of a democratic Syria.

France was the first Western power to do so.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, said in Cairo on Tuesday that Berlin would also back the opposition groups' efforts to establish an alternative to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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Western powers discuss Syrian opposition

"Germany will endeavor to support the efforts of the opposition towards unity and for an end to the violence," said Westerwelle. "The agreement of the opposition on a common national coalition is an important step forward that must now prove to be a success."

Gaining speed

The United States said Tuesday the newly formed opposition National Coalition is "a legitimate representative" of the Syrian people, but stopped short of recognizing it as a government-in-exile.

"We now have a structure in place that can prepare for a political transition, but... we're looking for it to still establish the types of technical committees that will allow us to make sure our assistance gets to the right places," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague - who was also in the Egyptian capital for the meeting - hailed the formation of the coalition as "an important milestone," adding that London might go on to formally recognize the body.

The national coalition brings together various groups, including the Syrian National Council (SNC), from the factious Syrian opposition movement. The coalition was formally established on Sunday at the end of lengthy talks in Qatar.

On Monday, both the Gulf Cooperation Council, a collection of six Gulf states, and the Arab League said they recognized Syria's newly-formed opposition coalition as the representative of the Syrian people.

hc/jm (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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