Syrian leaders criticize expiration of EU arms embargo

Fears that move could extend conflict

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- A Syrian lawmaker has criticized the EU decision to let the bloc's arms embargo on Syria expire, saying efforts to provide the rebels with weapons will discourage the opposition from seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Essam Khalil, a member of parliament for the ruling Baath Party, says the EU's decision will hinder joint U.S.-Russian efforts to convene a peace conference aimed at bringing members of President Bashar Assad's regime and opposition figures together to seek a negotiated settlement to the 26-month-old conflict.

Khalil's comments Tuesday are the first by a Syrian official since the EU decision late Monday.

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