US criticizes UAE minister’s Syria meeting with ‘brutal dictator’ Assad

In this photo, released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad (right) speaks with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates, in Damascus, Syria, on November 9, 2021. (SANA via AP)

WASHINGTON — The United States on Tuesday criticized 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 normalize 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 US had conveyed its concerns to the Emirates but said Washington was “not surprised,” indicating that there was discussion beforehand.

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