France and the UK would consider arming the Syrian opposition even if it meant breaking an EU ban, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said.
Speaking on France Info radio, he said the two countries shared “identical views” over lifting the arms embargo.
He said they would press for EU talks on the embargo to be brought forward due to the situation’s urgency.
The UK has downplayed the remarks – but said earlier it might veto an upcoming EU vote to extend the embargo.
Many countries are concerned that pouring more arms into Syria could escalate the conflict. The BBC’s defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt says that was the position Britain was taking until recently.
Russia has stated its explicit opposition to arming the rebels.
The EU embargo is due to be renewed in May but British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday that it was “not out of the question we may have to do things in our own way”.
Mr Cameron said the UK was “still an independent country”, although he hoped the whole EU could reach agreement.
“We can have an independent foreign policy,” he said.
In Thursday’s interview, the French foreign minister echoed Mr Cameron’s words when asked if France and the UK agreed on arming the Syrian opposition without EU consent.
“France is a sovereign nation,” Mr Fabius told France Info.
“We are in constant consultation [with the UK] and on this particular matter, our positions are identical.”
France and the UK would be prepared to “lift the embargo” even if there was no international support for the decision, he added.
Both countries would call for the date of an EU meeting on the matter to be brought forward, Mr Fabius said.
“We have to act very quickly. The next time the EU is meant to discuss the matter would be in a few weeks’ time. But we will ask, along with Britain, to have the meeting moved forward.”
EU leaders are meeting for a summit in Brussels on Thursday evening – though Syria is not a formal agenda item.
The French minister said it was also important to continue providing humanitarian and political support to Syria.
Unnamed sources at the UK Foreign Office downplayed Mr Fabius’s comments, saying there were “no plans” to call for an urgent meeting and they “did not recognise the reports from Paris”.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a Tweet posted on Thursday: “Syrians are caught in a tragedy and humanitarian crisis. But solving the problem by arming the opposition is not an option here.”