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US softens rhetoric on Arab outreach to Syria’s Assad

The Biden administration says "real steps to improve the situation for the people in Syria" should be part of any engagement with the long-boycotted regime.
Flags of Arab League nations are set up at the convention center slated to host the league's Heads of State summit, in Algeria capital Algiers, on October 30, 2022. - Arab leaders are to meet in the Algerian capital on November 1 for their first summit since a string of normalisation deals with Israel that have divided the region. (Photo by Fethi Belaid / AFP) (Photo by FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Three words — “Assad must go'' — once came to define US policy in Syria. Today, the Biden administration's stance could be summarized as, Assad must not be normalized without something in return. 

The Arab world is rebuilding ties with President Bashar al-Assad, more than a decade after the regime violently cracked down on a peaceful anti-government uprising, spawning a civil war that killed hundreds of thousands of people, created a new generation of extremist groups and caused the biggest displacement crisis since World War II. 

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