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Qatar asks Syrian opposition to name ambassador

DUBAI (Reuters) - Qatar has asked Syria's newly formed opposition coalition to appoint an ambassador to the Gulf Arab state, the first Arab country to publicly announce it will accept an envoy from the body.

Qatar is one of the main backers of the Syrian National Coalition and a staunch opponent of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is struggling to control an uprising against his rule in which 38,000 people have been killed.

"The Qatari request aims to strengthen the goals of the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces to achieve the hopes of the Syrian people," said a Qatari Foreign Ministry official, quoted by the state news agency QNA.

Assad's foes have been divided throughout the struggle but a deal to form the coalition, a more inclusive opposition bloc, was forged in Qatar this month under intense international pressure.

Britain, France and six Gulf Arab states have fully recognized the new coalition but the United States and other nations say it needs more time to prove itself.

In February, Qatar and other Gulf Arab states said they were recalling their ambassadors from Damascus and expelling envoys of the Syrian government in response to the violence in Syria.

(Reporting by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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