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Removing Assad ‘Not Our Priority’

by AFP

Nicholas Kamm—AFP

U.S. envoy to U.N. says ouster of Syrian president no longer focus as means to end civil war.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said on Thursday that Washington is no longer focused on ousting President Bashar al-Assad as it seeks ways to end Syria’s civil war.

“You pick and choose your battles,” Nikki Haley told reporters. “And when we’re looking at this it’s about changing up priorities and our priority is no longer to sit and focus on getting Assad out.”

Haley was speaking after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had signaled a change in the U.S. stance by admitting that Assad’s eventual fate was up to the Syrian people. Speaking at the U.S. mission to the United Nations, which is about to assume the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council, Haley said Washington would focus on the push for a political solution.

“Our priority is to really look at how do we get things done? Who do we need to work with to really make a difference for the people in Syria,” she said. “We can’t necessarily focus on Assad the way the previous administration maybe did. Do we think he’s a hindrance? Yes,” she said. “Are we going to sit there and focus on getting him out? No.”

Haley said she would focus on ways to remove the influence of Assad’s ally Iran, which has supported him in his civil war against rebel forces. And she said Washington would work with other players in the conflict, including Turkey, to seek a long-term solution.

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