The European Union's foreign policy chief says the deepening crisis in Syria is high on the agenda as envoys from the EU hold talks with Gulf Arab states that have led calls to boost weapons supplies for rebels fighting Bashar Assad's regime.

The meeting Sunday in Bahrain also takes place amid fears that political tensions in Egypt could drag the country into further turmoil with massive protests planned against the government of President Mohammed Morsi.

Gulf leaders are likely to press the EU's Catherine Ashton to step up weapons flow to Syrian rebels.

But she faces pressure from rights groups to publicly criticize Gulf leaders for crackdowns including the detention of activists and others in host Bahrain, which has been locked in nonstop Arab Spring-inspired unrest since February 2011.