U.S. to end fund on Syria stabilization initiative

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-18 06:03:03|Editor: xuxin
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. State Department on Friday said that the fund of some 230 million U.S. dollars targeted to support the stabilization initiative in Syria would be withdrawn.

In a statement, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has authorized the Department of State to "redirect approximately $230 million in stabilization funds for Syria which have been under review."

She explained that the fund could be offset by the approximately 300 million U.S. dollars that the Department has elicited since April "in contributions and pledges from Coalition partners to support critical stabilization and early recovery initiatives in areas liberated from ISIS in northeast Syria."

The decision took into account "the President's guidance on the need to increase burden sharing with allies and partners," she said, adding that the State Department will redirect these funds to support "other key foreign policy priorities."

However, she added that "this decision does not represent any lessening of U.S. commitment to our strategic goals in Syria," and it does not affect U.S. humanitarian assistance in the war-torn nation.

"We are prepared to remain in Syria until the enduring defeat of ISIS, and we remain focused on ensuring the withdrawal of Iranian forces and their proxies," she said.

U.S. former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Feb. 13 pledged 200 million U.S. dollars in support of the anti-IS coalition efforts and recovery commitment in Syria.

However, U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly ordered in March a hold on the funds, demanding more information on how the money is being used and urging other countries to step up to the plate and pay more.

Trump also said in a speech in the U.S. state of Ohio that that his country will withdraw its troops in Syria "very soon," at odds with the statement of Pentagon spokesperson Dana White on the same day that "important work remains to guarantee the lasting defeat of these violent extremists" in the Middle East country.

Trump's remarks have triggered speculation of the U.S. possible retreat from Syria.