Art of Diplomacy to Get Russia, China, India, Iran to Abandon Assad: US

Mark Toner, Deputy Spokesperson, US State Department

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Washington, DC – The United States on Tuesday (August 16) made light of the growing support for Syrian President from major nuclear powers Russia, China and India, suggesting that the power of diplomacy would ensure global support from these and others to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

Answering questions on the visit of the new Indian Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar to Damascus this week to meet President Assad to explore steps to counter growing threats from the Islamic State, Mark C. Toner, the Deputy Spokesperson for the US State Department said, “I’ll let the Indian Government speak to what its intentions are.”

At the daily press briefing when it was suggested by Indian American Times that there was a coalition of countries like Russia, China, India and Iran supporting Assad while the US is insisting that there would not be a political solution with Assad at the helm of Syrian affairs, Toner said, “I don’t want to give any kind of credence or – to your question, saying that there’s some kind of pro-Assad coalition forming.”

But Toner was confident that the US diplomatic efforts to unite other countries in its efforts to oust Assad will be successful, saying, “That, my friend, is the art of diplomacy. And I’m not being facetious or lighthearted about it. I’m just – that’s walking into a room and building a consensus and dealing with tough issues and coming at it with different viewpoints. We’ve done that before. This Secretary of State has shown that he is capable of building that kind of consensus, whether it’s on climate change or an Iran nuclear deal. But that is – as I said, that’s the cornerstone of any successful diplomatic process.”

Toner reiterated the US stand against Assad, telling journalists at the briefing, “We’ve long said that the view of the United States is that there can be no successful political transition with Assad as the leader of Syria, but how that transition takes place, the pace of that transition is really something to be negotiated in Geneva between the two sides. That’s for them to figure that out. But we believe that Assad cannot be the future leader; we, the United States, believes that Assad cannot be the future leader of Syria because of the misery and carnage that he has caused in Syria on his own people.”

On the overall efforts to defeat Islamic State/Daesh, Toner urged to get “a general consensus towards a political or a diplomatic solution for Syria,” cautioning, “Otherwise, it’s just going to get worse. And let me be clear, I’m talking about just the civil war.”

“What we all need to focus on and what we’ve talked about before is we’re trying to end the civil war that’s taking place in Syria so that we can all focus our efforts to destroying and degrading Daesh,” Toner stressed.

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