Qatar has no plan to normalize ties with Syria - foreign minister

Qatar FM said in a press conference with Blinken that they have no plan to normalize with Syria and discourage other nations in the region from doing so.

Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani speaks during the annual Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany February 17, 2019. (photo credit: ANDREAS GEBERT/REUTERS)
Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani speaks during the annual Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany February 17, 2019.
(photo credit: ANDREAS GEBERT/REUTERS)

Qatar is not considering normalizing ties with Syria and hopes other countries will be discouraged from taking further steps with President Bashar al-Assad's government, foreign minister Sheikh  Al-Thani said on Friday.

His comments at a joint news conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington were in response to a question on a visit this week by the foreign minister of fellow Gulf state the United Arab Emirates to Damascus.

"It will be wishful thinking to have all the countries in the region united when it comes to the issue of Syria, and we hope that countries will be discouraged from taking further steps with the Syrian regime in order not to (worsen) the misery of the Syrian people," Sheikh Mohammed said.

"We don't see any serious steps by the Assad regime showing his commitment to repair the damage that he made for his own country and people," he added.

Qatar was among several regional states including Saudi Arabia that backed rebels in Syria's decade-old civil war. Some like the UAE have sought to normalize ties after Assad regained control of most of the country.

A PICTURE of Syria’s President Bashar Assad hangs outside the parliament building in Damascus in April. (credit: YAMAM AL SHAAR/REUTERS)A PICTURE of Syria’s President Bashar Assad hangs outside the parliament building in Damascus in April. (credit: YAMAM AL SHAAR/REUTERS)

The UAE earlier this year called for Syria to be readmitted to the Arab League. On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan met with Assad in Damascus in the first such visit by a senior Emirati dignitary since the civil war erupted.

Washington, which opposes efforts to normalize ties with Assad or rehabilitate him until progress is made towards a political solution to the conflict, said it was concerned about the move by UAE, one of its allies.