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Trump’s Priorities in Syria Lead to Uncertainty | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, left, holds talks with Syria’s main opposition negotiator Nasr al-Hariri/Reuters Martial Trezzini

Geneva, Beirut- The priorities of the Trump administration uncovered by US officials on Thursday have mixed all the cards on the eve of the end of Syria’s fifth round of peace talks held in Geneva.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US ambassador to the UN both said that Trump’s administration seeks a long term political solution to the Syrian crisis instead of focusing on the fate of the head of Syria’s regime.

“The status and the longer-term status of Bashar Assad will be decided by the Syrian people,” Tillerson said Thursday in a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

The comments of both US officials echoed in Paris where French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the Syrian conflict should not only depend on the “question” of Assad’s fate.

“If some want at any price that we debate whether we keep Assad or not, this is not how the question is asked,” Ayrault said after arriving in Brussels on Friday to attend a NATO meeting.

Meanwhile, the “Geneva 5” peace talks on Syria ended Friday the way they started, without reaching any concrete solution.

The last day of the talks witnessed extensive negotiations concerning the implications of Washington’s new priorities.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Syrian opposition member Farah al-Atassi underestimated the comments of US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, saying they were “unofficial.”

Al-Atassi said US Special Envoy to Syria, Deputy Assistant State Secretary Michael Ratney, told the opposition delegation that the new US policy regarding Syria “was not set yet.”

In Geneva, UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura refused to reveal whether his mission would end with Geneva 5, or will be “technically” extended for another 15 days, as some sources said.

However, Asharq Al-Awsat learned that high-ranking sources from de Mistura’s office asserted to the Syrian opposition delegation that the UN envoy “was staying in his position.”