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WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama has recognized the leading Syrian opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the country's people.

"We've made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime," Barack Obama said in interview with ABC News on Tuesday night.

"So we will provide them recognition and obviously with that recognition comes responsibilities on the part of that coalition," he said. "It is a big step," President Obama added.


The statement came as foreign ministers from 70 countries are meeting today in Morocco to discuss the situation in Syria.

The UK, France, Turkey and Gulf states have already given their recognition after the coalition group was formed at a meeting of opposition representatives which took place in Qatar last month.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the US had decided to place all its bets on the coalition achieving an "armed victory," writes BBC News.

Russia has been supporting Bashar al-Assad's regime since the beginning of the uprising in March 2011.

Obama's announcement follows his administration's blacklisting of a militant Syrian rebel group -the al-Nusra Front- with links to al-Qaida as the US is trying to blunt the influence of extremists amongst the opposition.

The US state department estimates that the group is responsible for more than 500 violent attacks in major Syrian cities in the past year.

"Not everybody who's participating on the ground in fighting Assad are people who we are comfortable with," Obama said. "There are some who, I think, have adopted an extremist agenda, an anti-US agenda, and we are going to make clear to distinguish between those elements."

Activists say more than 40,000 people have died in the conflict. More than half a million Syrians have now fled to neighboring countries, according to the UN's refugee agency.

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Economy

In Uganda, Having A "Rolex" Is About Not Going Hungry

Experts fear the higher food prices resulting from the conflict in Ukraine could jeopardize the health of many Ugandans. Take a look at this ritzy-named simple dish.

Zziwa Fred, a street vendor who runs two fast-food businesses in central Uganda, rolls a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex.

Nakisanze Segawa

WAKISO — Godfrey Kizito takes a break from his busy shoe repair shop every day so he can enjoy his favorite snack, a vegetable and egg omelet rolled in a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex. But for the past few weeks, this daily ritual has given him neither the satisfaction nor the sustenance he is used to consuming. Kizito says this much-needed staple has shrunk in size.

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Most streets and markets in Uganda have at least one vendor firing up a hot plate ready to cook the Rolex, short for rolled eggs — which usually comes with tomatoes, cabbage and onion and is priced anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 Ugandan shillings (28 to 57 cents). Street vendor Farouk Kiyaga says many of his customers share Kizito’s disappointment over the dwindling size of Uganda’s most popular street food, but Kiyaga is struggling with the rising cost of wheat and cooking oil.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has halted exports out of the two countries, which account for about 26% of wheat exports globally and about 80% of the world’s exports of sunflower oil, pushing prices to an all-time high, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency. Not only oil and wheat are affected. Prices of the most consumed foods worldwide, such as meat, grains and dairy products, hit their highest levels ever in March, making a nutritious meal even harder to buy for those who already struggle to feed themselves and their families. The U.N. organization warns the conflict could lead to as many as 13.1 million more people going hungry between 2022 and 2026.

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