UAE minister: US sanctions on Syria pose challenge for Arab League rapprochement

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The United Arab Emirates said Tuesday that tough US sanctions on war-ravaged Syria make it more challenging for Damascus to return to the Arab League.

Through Washington's Caesar Act, a law that took effect in June last year, the United States is hoping to prevent any reconstruction effort or normalization of trade without accountability for atrocities under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said that while efforts were required by both the Syrians and the Arab League bloc, the “bigger challenge today facing coordination and working with Syria is the Caesar Act”.

“To keep the Caesar Act as it is today makes this path very difficult, not only for us as a nation, but also for the private sector,” he added, during a press conference with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

Abdullah said it was an issue that “should be part of dialogue we address clearly with our friends in the United States”.

Syria's conflict, sparked by the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011, has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced millions.

Syria was suspended from the 22-member Arab League bloc in November 2011 as the death toll mounted.

Several regional powers, betting on the demise of Assad's regime, suspended diplomatic ties with Damascus.

The UAE and Bahrain re-opened their diplomatic missions in the Syrian capital in December 2018.

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