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US Will Not Normalize Relations With Syria Under Assad, Blinken Says

The United States will not support efforts to normalize relations with Syria or to rehabilitate Syrian President Bashar Assad, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. He said that the US is focusing on expanding humanitarian access for refugees from the country’s decade-long civil war, promoting human rights and sustaining local cease-fires throughout the country

“What we have not done and what we do not intend to do is to express any support for efforts to normalize relations or rehabilitate Mr. Assad, or lifted a single sanction on Syria or changed our position to oppose the reconstruction of Syria until there is irreversible progress toward a political solution, which we believe is necessary and vital,” Blinken said Wednesday following a trilateral meeting in Washington with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The United States withdrew its diplomatic presence in Syria in 2012. It has levied a series of sanctions against the Assad regime and those close to the president, including the Caesar Act, that sanctions companies that do business with Assad.

Earlier this month, Assad and Jordan’s King Abdullah II had their first conversation in the decade since the start of the civil war in Syria. Days before that phone call, Jordan fully reopened its main border crossing with Syria.