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Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues

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France Indicates Delay for Syria Peace Conference

France on Sunday hinted that a planned international conference aimed at negotiating an end to the Syrian civil war could be convened in Switzerland in July -- one month later than the timeline pushed by Russia and the United States, Reuters reported.

"The Geneva II conference is the last chance. I  hope it will take place. It could take place in July," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.

The main Syrian opposition coalition is refusing to participate if Iran and Hezbollah also attend the conference. The Bashar Assad regime has said that while it will participate, any peace agreement must be put before the Syrian people for a vote. Damascus has also said Assad will remain in power until at least 2014 and might run for re-election.

The British foreign policy chief on Monday said his government would not make a decision on supplying weapons to Syrian rebels until the Geneva talks have taken place, Reuters separately reported.

"A decision on whether to deliver lethal weapons will depend on how those negotiations go and other countries' attitudes," Foreign Secretary William Hague said in an inter view with a German newspaper.

The European Union recently lifted its arms ban over Syria but no EU member has pledged to provide weapons to opposition forces.

Washington on Friday urged Moscow not to send advanced air-defense systems to Syria, the Washington Post reported.

Damascus is understood years back to have purchased several S-300 anti-aircraft systems that can also be used against some ballistic missiles. It is not clear if the Assad regime has received any or all of the components needed for assembling and operating the technology.

"We ask them again not to upset the balance within the region with respect to Israel and the weaponry that is being provided to Assad," Secretary of State John Kerry said. "It has a profoundly negative impact on the balance of interests and the stability of the region, and it does put Israel at risk."

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