MIDDLE EAST

Qatari FM says seeing no need to re-open embassy in Syria

Qatar on Monday reiterated its refusal to normalize diplomatic relations with the Syrian regime. "Qatar does not see the necessity of reopening its embassy in Damascus. We have not seen any positive signs that would warrant diplomatic normalization," Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said at a joint press conference in Doha with African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki.

Qatar's foreign minister said on Monday that he saw no need to re-open an embassy in Damascus, nor any encouraging signs for a normalisation of ties with the Syrian government.

Foreign Minister Al Thani also said Qatar still objects to Arab League membership for Syria.

Syria's membership of the Arab League was suspended in 2011 over the government's violent response to protests at the start of what turned out to be an almost eight-year war.

Some Arab states, including some that once backed rebels against Bashar Assad, are seeking to reconcile with him after decisive gains by his and allied forces in the war.

"Since day one Qatar had reasons for which it supported suspending (Arab League) membership and those reasons are still there, so we do not see any encouraging factor," Al Thani said at a press conference.

"The Syrian people remain subject to aggression and displacement at the hands of the [Assad] regime," Al Thani said.

He added: "To normalize with the regime at this stage would be to normalize with those implicated in war crimes."

Doha's top diplomat went on to assert that Qatar's position on Syria remained based on support for a solution "mandated by the Syrian people".

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