Syria stabilization fund was ridiculous, let the Saudis pay it, Trump says

An aerial view of the damage to Raqqa from the fight to liberate the Syrian city from ISIS. AP

An aerial view of the damage to Raqqa from the fight to liberate the Syrian city from ISIS. AP

The 88 million euro contribution is the biggest single cash injection yet for reconstruction efforts in areas formerly controlled by the militants.

The State Department named veteran U.S. diplomat and former ambassador to Iraq, Jim Jeffrey, as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's adviser for Syria, a role that will include overseeing the U.S. role in talks aimed at a political transition in Syria.

The funds will be redirected "to support other key foreign policy priorities", added Nauert, who along with other USA officials rejected suggestions that the removal of the funds reflected the administration's diminishing interest in Syria.

Earlier this year, U.S. President Donald Trump announced he wanted to withdraw from the war-ravaged country. In a tweet, they said it was an indication of a "lack of U.S. leadership" that is "undercutting USA interests in Syria and around the world".

The State Department "continues to work with the worldwide community, members of the Coalition, and our partners on the ground to provide much needed stabilization support to vulnerable areas in Syria", the spokesperson said in March.

The department's spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Saudi Arabia had contributed $100 million and the United Arab Emirates had pledged $50 million toward the new funding. It was reported in late March that he froze more than $200 million in recovery funds to Syria, questioning how the money was being used in the country.

McGurk added the decision to cancel the $230 million funds would not diminish the USA role as the top worldwide player in northeast Syria.

McGurk said the funding was not targeted at reconstruction programs, adding that worldwide assistance to rebuild areas destroyed by war will not come until a United Nations-backed political peace process is achieved.

The State Department said it would redirect $230 million in frozen funding for Syria to other unspecified foreign policy priorities, while emphasizing that the move did not signal a retreat by Washington from the Syrian conflict.

People ride their motorcycle by damaged buildings in the old town of Homs, Syria, Aug. 15, 2018. The U.S. and its European partners support a United Nations -led process known as the Geneva peace talks. "That is actually being prepared now and will come at a time of our choosing, but it's coming", McGurk, the USA special presidential envoy overseeing the fight against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, told reporters.

Acting U.S. assistant secretary of state David Satterfield said there would be no global funding for Syria's reconstruction until there was a "credible and irreversible" political process underway to end the Syrian conflict, which has been going on since March 2011.

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