British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday at the White House that he has not made a decision to arm the Syrian opposition. Britain will, however, double non-lethal support to them in the next year, he said.
Last week the British government said amending the European Union arms embargo against the main Syrian opposition group would strengthen moderate forces in the opposition and put pressure on the Middle Eastern government to enter negotiations on a political solution. The arms embargo expires at the end of the month.
Cameron and President Obama at a joint news conference said they will continue to support the people of Syria, provide more humanitarian aid, and push for a transitional government to help bring peace to the Middle Eastern country.
Cameron also said he saw an “urgent window of opportunity” before the “worst fears” in Syria would be realized.
The Obama administration said it is still considering providing weapons to vetted units in the armed opposition after evidence emerged that Syrian government forces may have used chemical weapons on its own citizens last month.
President Obama said the United States will further increase pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stop the “appalling violence” in Syria, and that his administration continued to investigate the reported use of chemical weapons.
“We will continue to work to establish the facts around the use of chemical weapons in Syria and those facts will help guide our next steps,” Obama said on Monday morning.
Israel bombed targets in Damascus on May 5, a move that increased pressure on President Obama to intervene in Syria. The death toll has reached at least 82,000 people during the country’s two-year civil war.
The two leaders also discussed a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States, the Mideast peace process, and next month’s eight-nation economic summit in Northern Ireland.
Last week Cameron said Britain, Russia, and the United States should work to help form a transitional government in Syria. The United States and Russia agreed to arrange an international conference to bring representatives of the Syrian government and opposition to the negotiating table. No date has been set.