US envoy to UN: Removing Assad ‘not our priority’
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US envoy to UN: Removing Assad ‘not our priority’

Nikki Haley says though president is a hindrance, efforts are to be directed at helping Syrian people

A member of the Syrian government forces walks in Deir Hafer on the eastern outskirts of Aleppo on March 30, 2017, after they took control of the town from Islamic State fighters. (AFP/George OURFALIAN)
A member of the Syrian government forces walks in Deir Hafer on the eastern outskirts of Aleppo on March 30, 2017, after they took control of the town from Islamic State fighters. (AFP/George OURFALIAN)

UNITED NATIONS, New York — The US ambassador to the United Nations said Thursday that Washington is no longer focused on ousting President Bashar 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 US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had signaled a change in the US stance by admitting that Assad’s eventual fate was up to the Syrian people.

Speaking at the US mission to the United Nations, which is about to assume the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council, Haley said Washington will 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.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley speaks outside the United Nations General Assembly on March 27, 2017 in New York. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley speaks outside the United Nations General Assembly on March 27, 2017 in New York. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

“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.

Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks during an interview with Yahoo News in Damascus, Syria, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 (SANA via AP)
Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks during an interview with Yahoo News in Damascus, Syria, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 (SANA via AP)
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