US 'concerned' by UAE FM visit to 'brutal dictator' Assad

US 'concerned' by UAE FM visit to 'brutal dictator' Assad
2 min read
09 November, 2021
"We are concerned by reports of this meeting and the signal that it sends," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
Price declined to say if the United States had conveyed its concerns to the Emirates [Getty]

The United States on Tuesday criticised the top diplomat of ally the United Arab Emirates for meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, denouncing efforts to rehabilitate a "brutal dictator."

"We are concerned by reports of this meeting and the signal that it sends," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

"This administration will not express any support for efforts to normalise or rehabilitate Bashar al-Assad, who is a brutal dictator," Price said, not referring to him as president.

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan was paying the first such visit to Syria in a decade, a month after he visited Washington for three-way talks involving Israel.

Price declined to say if the United States had conveyed its concerns to the Emirates but said Washington was "not surprised," indicating that there was discussion beforehand.

Arab states have increasingly been warming ties with Assad after concluding that he has effectively won a brutal decade-long civil war in which he battled both militants backed by Sunni Arab states and the brutal Islamic State movement.

President Joe Biden's administration has said it is focused on humanitarian relief.

But Price said there was no question of legitimising Assad.

"There has been no change in our position and Bashar al-Assad certainly has not said anything that would rehabilitate his image or that would suggest that he or his regime is changing its ways," he said.