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Baerbock warns against 'unconditional' Assad normalization

May 15, 2023

Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock made the comments as a number of Arab states have softened their positions toward Damascus in recent months.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock speaking at press conference
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock says that overtures toward Syria's ruler should be made contingent on concessions from DamascusImage: Florian Gaertner/photothek/IMAGO

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned against what she called "unconditional normalization" of relations with Syrian ruler Bashar Assad on Monday.

"Every step towards Assad should be made dependent on concrete concessions," she said.

Her remarks followed her meeting with Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry said that the two officials discussed regional and international issues. The talks were held in the western Saudi city of Jeddah.

Baerbock is set to meet Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmed bin Mubarak in Jeddah on Tuesday. The German Foreign Ministry earlier said that Baerbock will visit Qatar following her trip to Saudi Arabia.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock signs Saudi Foreign Ministry guest book as officials watch
Baerbock made the comments following a meeting with Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in the Red Sea port city of JeddahImage: Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa/picture alliance

What did Baerbock say?

Baerbock said she believed that Assad should not be "rewarded for the most serious human rights violations on a daily basis."

"In Syria, the political process to resolve the conflict remains distant," said Baerbock. "For more than 10 years there has been nothing but bloodshed, unbelievable human suffering that is hardly reported anymore."

Baerbock made the comments ahead of an Arab League meeting scheduled for Friday, which Syria is set to attend.

The Arab League, an organization made up of 22 member states in the Middle East and North Africa, agreed to readmit Syria earlier this month. Syria was suspended from the organization shortly after the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011.

In recent months, a number of Arab states have softened their positions toward Damascus, with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad paying visits to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia.

Meanwhile, Western officials have voiced their opposition to the normalization of ties, and Syria's government remains under comprehensive EU and US sanctions.

sdi/jcg (dpa, Reuters)

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