Top US diplomat urges extension of cross-border Syria aid in call with UAE FM

Secretary Blinken and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed also discussed their shared commitment to peace in Yemen.

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The top US diplomat spoke to his Emirati counterpart on Wednesday, calling for another extension of cross-border aid authorization in Syria.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed also discussed the US and UAE commitment to peace in Yemen, State Department Spokesman Matt Miller said in a readout of their call.

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Yemen was a main topic of discussion during Blinken’s visit to the region last month, and US Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking recently returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia to follow up on the latest developments in neighboring Yemen.

“On Syria, the Secretary underscored the need for the UN Security Council to authorize UN cross-border assistance for a further 12 months and to ensure unhindered access during that period via all three border-crossing points currently in use,” the State Department said.

The mechanism, which is renewed by a vote of the Security Council, allows vital UN assistance to reach people in opposition-held northwest Syria without navigating areas controlled by government forces.

It was last renewed in January and is set to expire on July 10.

The UN has also called for an extension to the cross-border aid.

The UAE was one of the first countries in the region to normalize ties with the Assad regime, following years of support to groups looking to oust the Syrian president. Washington has continued to oppose normalizing with the Assad regime, but critics have faulted the Biden administration’s lack of policy in Syria as a reason for encouraging regional countries to push ahead with reviving diplomatic ties with Damascus.

The number of UN-approved crossings has shrunk from four in 2014 after years of pressure from the Assad regime’s allies China and Russia at the UN Security Council.

For years, Moscow has pressured international organizations to pass exclusively through regions under the control of Damascus to distribute aid throughout the country -- going as far as vetoing cross-border extensions that exceeded six months.

Read more: In Syria, Russia has stopped adhering to safe air protocols: US Air Force

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