John Bolton on Syria: ‘Iran’s support for global terror’ is key concern for US

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US national security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s grip on power is not a strategic issue for the United States, but Iran’s presence in the country is.

In an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation, Bolton said that President Donald Trump hoped to secure Russia’s help in evicting Iranian forces from the country.

He indicated that Assad’s efforts to crush his opposition were not the Trump administration’s principal concern in the region.

“There are possibilities for doing a larger negotiation on helping to get Iranian forces out of Syria and back into Iran, which would be a significant step forward,” he said.

“I don't think Assad is the strategic issue. I think Iran is the strategic issue. It's not just their continuing nuclear weapons program it's their massive support for international terrorism and their conventional forces in the Middle East,” Bolton said.

He added that Iran’s presence was a question the “two presidents [Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin] will want to discuss at length” when they meet in Helsinki on July 16.

Bolton also addressed Trump’s recent decision to withdraw the US from the Iran nuclear deal with world powers.

“I think President Trump's decision to withdraw from the misbegotten Iran nuclear deal, reimpose our sanctions begin to put much more pressure on Iran is having an effect on their decision making not just on the nuclear issue but on these efforts to extend Iranian influence around the region.”

Later in the interview, Bolton referred to Iran as the “largest financier of international terrorism around the world.”

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