DOHA (Reuters) - Qatar, a backer of rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump’s pledge to order safe zones in Syria, a foreign ministry official was quoted as saying by state news agency QNA on Thursday.
Trump said on Wednesday he “will absolutely do safe zones in Syria” for refugees fleeing violence. According to a document seen by Reuters, Trump is expected to order the Pentagon and the State Department in the coming days to come up with a plan for the zones.
Qatar’s foreign ministry director of information, Ahmed al-Rumaihi, said in a statement that Qatar welcomed Trump’s comments on Wednesday and “emphasized the need to provide safe havens in Syria and to impose no-fly zones to ensure the safety of civilians”.
Rumaihi said Qatar hoped recent negotiations in Kazakhstan would help maintain a shaky truce between Syria’s warring parties and that an effective monitoring mechanism would be needed to create conditions for proposed peace talks in Geneva.
Gas-rich Qatar works alongside Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Western nations to back Syrian rebels in a military aid program overseen by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency that provides moderate groups with arms and training.
Reporting by Tom Finn; Editing by Larry King