EU at odds with Trump administration over Assad’s role in Syria

The Guardian reports: The EU has reasserted that Bashar al-Assad has no future in Syria, just days after the Trump administration said his departure was no longer a priority for settling the conflict.

Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, said after six and a half years of war it was completely unrealistic to believe that the future of Syria would be exactly the same as its past. The EU wanted “a meaningful and inclusive transition in Syria” open to Syrians from all backgrounds, she said. “It is for the Syrians to decide, but for all Syrians.”

The French foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, was more specific: “France does not believe for an instant that this new Syria can be led by Assad.”

The fine-tuning of the EU stance on Syria comes ahead of a major aid conference in Brussels, which is partly an attempt to boost momentum behind UN-led peace talks.

In a communique, EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg agreed the EU would only get involved in reconstruction of the war-shattered country once a “comprehensive, genuine and inclusive political transition” was firmly under way.

The EU stance contrasts with the US administration, which said last week that getting rid of Assad was no longer a priority. “You pick and choose your battles,” said Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN. “It’s about changing up priorities and our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out.” [Continue reading…]

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