“Now is not the time to normalize relations”
The US State Department denounced the latest steps by Turkey to strengthen diplomatic relations with Syria, saying such a move will “rehabilitate the brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad.”
“We urge states to carefully consider the Assad regime’s atrocious human rights record the past 12 years as it continues to inflict atrocities on the Syrian people and to deny access to lifesaving humanitarian aid,” said Ned Price, the Spokesperson for the State Department answering a question in the daily press briefing.
“As the Syrian people continue to suffer through nearly a dozen years of war, our support for a Syrian-led political solution in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 remains firm, and we’ll continue to work with allies, partners, and the UN to ensure that a durable political solution remains within reach.”
Asked if the US talked with Turkey about this issue, Price said that the US administration has made very clear to all its allies and partners that “now is not the time to normalize relations, now is not the time to upgrade relations, and countries should be mindful of the atrocious human rights record that the Assad regime has inflicted upon its people over the past 12 years.”
Last week, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and his Syrian counterpart Ali Mahmud Abbas met in Moscow with the participation of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for a first high-level contact between the two neighboring countries in 11 years.
Head of Turkey’s Intelligence Agency Hakan Fidan along with Syrian and Russian intelligence chiefs were also present at the meeting, where “the Syrian crisis, the refugee problem and joint efforts to combat all terrorist organizations in Syria” were discussed, according to Akar’s office.
Turkish President Recep Erdogan on Dec.15 said Ankara is willing to take trilateral steps with Moscow and Damascus governments on Syria and made the proposal to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who supported the idea.