The Straits Times
Published on Feb 01, 2013

Biden to meet Syrian opposition leader in Europe: White House


WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - United States Vice President Joe Biden is set to meet with Syrian opposition leader Mouaz Alkhatib during a European trip in coming days and will discuss US concerns about the Syrian conflict with Russia as well, White House officials said on Thursday.

It would be the highest-level US meeting with the Syrian opposition, which is fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad in a 22-month-old war that has killed more than 60,000 people and forced more than 700,000 to flee Syria, according to the United Nations.

Mr Biden is due to meet Mr Alkhatib on Saturday in Munich on the margins of a security conference, where the US vice president is also due to deliver a speech, the officials said.

"The position of the United States is focused on supporting an end to the Assad regime, which is why we have a significant amount of pressure applied on the Assad regime through sanctions and other means, while at the same time we're working to bolster a Syrian Opposition Council that we recognise as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people," Mr Ben Rhodes, US deputy national security adviser, said in a conference call with reporters.