WASHINGTON — The United States said Monday it is closely monitoring the progress of a new Syrian opposition alliance as it weighs whether to recognize the body as the sole representative of the Syrian people.

"We're obviously looking at this day by day, week by week. We're getting to know them better. We're encouraging them to make more progress," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

"But we will see how things go over the coming weeks."

European Union foreign ministers on Monday said they viewed the just-formed National Coalition as "legitimate representatives" of Syria's people.

But a statement from the bloc's 27 ministers after a day of talks did not go as far as France, which last week recognized the coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people and is mulling accepting an ambassador.

Acknowledging that Washington was a step behind France, Nuland reiterated: "We see this group as a legitimate representative of the people."

It must now "take the next steps to strengthen its organizational structure, to demonstrate its effective outreach to groups on the ground," she said.

"We are continuing to look at what's appropriate in terms of our diplomatic engagement with them," she added.