US-Qatar agree to reject normalization with the Assad regime

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken expressed Washington’s concern over official visits to Syria, while his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani, expressed his hope to halt the normalization of relations with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

During a press conference in Washington that brought the two ministers together, Blinken said, “We are concerned by the signals that official visits to Syria are sending, and I urge all of our partners to remember the crimes that the Assad regime has committed and continues to commit.”

“We do not support normalization with the Assad regime, and we will make it clear to our allies and partners to consider this matter,” Blinken added.

The Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs affirmed that Qatar’s position is clear regarding normalization with the Assad regime, and that it is a step that his country is not currently considering.

“We believe that it is necessary to hold him accountable for all the crimes he committed against the Syrian people. We support a peaceful political solution in Syria,” he added.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani also expressed his hope that countries would not be encouraged to take additional steps towards the Syrian regime.

But the Qatari minister also said other countries had a “sovereign right” to make their own decisions on Syria.

These statements come after a visit by UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Damascus last Tuesday, where he met Assad in the first visit of a senior Emirati official since the start of the Syrian revolution in 2011, in which the regime killed more than half a million Syrians.

Earlier, Washington said it was concerned about the move taken by the UAE.

The “Caesar Act” (a US law that took effect last year) provides for sanctions against anyone who cooperates with Assad to rebuild Syria, as part of an effort to encourage accountability for abusers.

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