United States and Syria seem to be on a path to continue strained relations as Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that an effort to normalise relations between the two countries is not supported by America.
Cordial relations, in addition to lifting sanctions, between the United States and the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad depends on the political process in the war-torn country, according to reports from Associated Press citing Secretary of State Blinken.
The statements from the State Department came as a number of Arab countries have started to mend diplomatic relations. Jordan's King Abdullah II spoke to Syrian leader Assad over the phone earlier this month, marking the first contact between the head of states after 2011, when the Syrian conflict gained momentum. Moreover, the Syrian defense minister went on a state visit to Syria in September.
Syria was also invited to take part in Dubai’s Expo 2020, the first world fair in the Middle East. Crisis-hit Lebanon is working on getting electricity from Jordan through Syria and a 10-year old deal to transport Egyptian natural gas through Jordan and Syria to Lebanon was also revived in September.
Blinken spoke during a joint news conference in Washington with the foreign ministers of Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Arab and Western countries blamed Assad for the deadly crackdown on the uprising that erupted in 2011, and supported the opposition in early days of the conflict. Syria's civil war has killed more than 350,000 people and displaced millions.
The tide of the war changed in late 2015, when Russia threw its military weight behind Assad. Still, Syria is struggling with sanctions imposed by the United States and many Western nations.
Blinken said in Washington, "What we’ve not done and we do not intend to do is to express any support for efforts to normalize relations or rehabilitate Mr. Assad or lift a single sanction on Syria or change our positions to oppose the reconstruction of Syria", according to reports from Associated Press.
(With AP inputs)