assad speech 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – After two years of pushing Israel to reach a peace agreement with
Syria, a top US State Department official indicated Tuesday the Obama
administration is no longer looking at the current regime as a partner for such
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“It’s hard for us to stand by and see [President Bashar] Assad
and his government engage in the kind of things they’re doing against their own
people and to then think easily about how to pursue other diplomatic missions,”
Jacob Sullivan, director of policy planning at the State Department, told
At the same time, he said that the US continues to believe it
is important to engage with Syria in order to clearly communicate the US
position on the actions Syria is taking in putting down opposition
Sullivan said at this point there are no plans to withdraw the
newly installed US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford or otherwise cut off
contacts. He noted that the Syrian ambassador in Washington had been summoned to
the State Department after the most recent attacks on civilians, and that Ford
had held several conversations with top Syrian officials in recent
But Sullivan said the US is also looking at the possibility of
imposing sanctions on Syrian leaders and is consulting with international
partners on this and other potential steps to halt the bloody crackdown Assad
has ordered on opposition protesters.
“President Assad is on the wrong
track,” Sullivan said, condemning the civilian deaths.
He added, though,
that the US is focused on “diplomatic and financial” initiatives aimed at the
Syrian regime rather than military intervention as has taken place in
He also repeatedly declined to label Assad an illegitimate ruler
or call for him to go, as the US did in Libya with Muammar Gaddafi once the
Libyan leader began to shoot at protesters rather than accede to their demands
“Ultimately, the future of Syria is up to the people of
Syria,” Sullivan said.