MAJOR: U.S Abandons Regime-Change Policy on Syria

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The replacement of the current Syrian administration is not among the US’ aims in the Middle East because the country is committed to the process of a political settlement, the special representative of the US Secretary of State for Syria James Jeffrey told RIA Novosti and the Kommersant newspaper.

It is noteworthy that, while Russia has reiterated that Bashar Assad’s fate must be decided by the Syrian people themselves, some Western countries, including the US, insisted that Assad should relinquish power, considering his exit is a key factor of bringing peace to the country.

“We are committed to a political process that is with and by the Syrian people. The Syrian people get to decide who will lead them and what kind of a government they will have. We are not committed to any kind of regime change. We are committed to a change in the behavior of that regime,” said Jeffrey.

When commenting on the new US sanctions targeting oil supplies to Syria, Jeffrey said that Washington hopes that restrictive measures on Iranian and Russian oil exports to Syria will revive the political process on the ground.

He admitted that all US sanctions on Iran had a “specific Iran pressure component” linked to its concern about Tehran’s activities in the region.

“But these sanctions also are focused on Iran working to help Syria out. And we believe that we need to see the political process move forward, we need to see a de-escalation of the fighting in Syria … And we’ll use sanctions, we’ll use denial of reconstruction aid, we’ll use diplomatic resources — anything we can to try to end this conflict and restore Syria to its people,” he said.

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Russian firms can take whatever decisions they want in their oil trade with Syria, James Jeffrey said, adding US sanctions on it would likely be taken into account.

“We believe that generally sanctions do have an effect on political decision-making. But it is a long-term and necessarily indirect effect. Obviously Russian businesses can make whatever business decisions they make,” he said.

The United States wants Russia to use its influence on Iran whose troops are fighting in Syria to withdraw from the country, Jeffrey said.

“We do urge the Russians to use whatever influence they have with the Syrian government and with the Iranians … to effect the removal of all Iranian commanded forces from the entirety of Syria as part of a solution that would have all foreign forces other than the Russians leave and return to 2011,” he said.

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