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Article published November 16, 2012
New Syrian ambassador to France is named
PARIS — French President Francois Hollande and the new Syrian opposition leader announced plans Saturday to install an ambassador to represent Syria in France. The surprise move came after talks at France’s presidential palace between Hollande and Moaz al-Khatib, head of the newly formed Syrian opposition coalition. France recognized the coalition days after it was formed on Sunday — and so far is the only Western country to do so. Al-Khatib said the new envoy will be academic Mounzir Makhous. He has four doctorate degrees and belongs to the Muslim Alawite sect of Islam, like Syrian President Bashar Assad, al-Khatib said. The new envoy was at the talks Saturday in Paris. More than 36,000 people have been killed since the Syrian uprising against Assad began in March 2011 and the new coalition is pressing for the means to defend Syrian civilians.