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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Blinken: US will not support normalization with Syrian leader

by Humayra Pamuk | Reuters

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that the US will support any effort to normalize ties with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or rehabilitate him until irreversible progress is made towards a political solution in Syria. does not intend to.

Blinken’s remarks at a news conference come at a time when a shift is underway among the United States’ Arab allies in the Middle East, who are bringing Assad out of the cold by reviving economic and diplomatic ties.

Jordan, a staunch US ally, fully reopened its main border with Syria in late September to boost the countries’ struggling economies and after Arab states pulled Syria away from its civil war. To be forced to reorganize it.

Jordan’s King Abdullah also spoke to Assad this month for the first time in a decade, while the foreign ministers of Egypt and Syria met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York last month, in what Egyptian media said was the first at that level. The meeting was for almost a decade.

“What we have not done and do not intend to do is to express any support for efforts to normalize relations or to rehabilitate Mr. Assad or to lift a single sanctions on Syria or to oppose the reconstruction of Syria. We have changed our position for, unless irreversible, progress towards a political solution that we consider necessary and important,” Blinken said.

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The United States has suspended its diplomatic presence in Syria since 2012.

Blinken said that in the nine months since President Joe Biden took office on January 20, Washington has called on the US to expand humanitarian access to Syria, maintain the campaign against Islamic State, and demand accountability from Assad’s government. The focus is on making the commitment clear.

But Syria has not been a foreign policy priority for the Biden administration, analysts note, as Washington largely focused on countering China. The administration has not yet implemented sanctions under the so-called Caesar Act, which came into force last year with the aim of increasing pressure on Assad.

“As we move forward, we are reducing violence, increasing humanitarian aid, and focusing our military efforts on any terrorist groups that pose a threat to us or our allies. These are going to be important areas of focus for us,” Blinken said.

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