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US-Russian Dispute on Syria Reconstruction

US-Russian Dispute on Syria Reconstruction

Friday, 12 October, 2018 - 05:45
Russian President Vladimir Putin. (AFP Photo/Alexey NIKOLSKY)
Moscow - London - Asharq Al-Awsat
A dispute between the US and Russia on the reconstruction of Syria grew on Thursday after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed that Washington would not make any financial contribution as long as there are Iranian forces or their backed militias in the war-torn country.

On the other hand, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed hope that the international community would join forces to rebuild Syria.

During a ceremony at the Kremlin where he received credentials from 23 new ambassadors representing five Kingdoms and 18 other countries, Putin stressed the importance of international unity to facilitate the recovery of Syrian economy and infrastructure as well as the return of the displaced.

A day earlier, Pompeo made remarks reflecting for the first time Washington’s new policy towards Syria, after a number of US officials had issued statements signaling similar positions in the past weeks.

“If Syria doesn’t ensure the total withdrawal of Iranian-backed troops, it will not receive one single dollar from the United States for reconstruction,” Pompeo told the Jewish Institute for National Security of America.

According to the UN, rebuilding Syria could cost $250 billion.

“The onus for expelling Iran from the country falls on the Syrian government, which bears responsibility for its presence there,” said the US Secretary of State.

Over the past months, the US and the European Union have rejecting Russian appeals to help with reconstruction until an agreement is reached on power-sharing in Syria.

The United States has some 2,000 troops in Syria, mainly training and advising opposition fighters.

Pompeo said that fighting ISIS “continues to be a top priority” but listed rolling back Iran as another.

For his part, Putin said Russia’s role was very decisive in directing the final blow against terrorism to protect the entity of the Syrian state.

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