The United States does not believe that the Syrian people want President Bashar Al-Assad as their leader any longer, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Monday, according to Reuters.
Haley was asked about Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's remarks in the Turkish capital Ankara lasst week, in which he said that Assad's status would be decided by the Syrian people.
She said it does not mean the United States will accept Assad participating in future elections.
"It's that we don't think the people want Assad anymore; we don't think that he is going to be someone that the people want to have," Haley told a news conference to mark the U.S. presidency of the UN Security Council for April.
"We have no love for Assad. We've made that very clear. We think that he has been a hindrance to peace for a long time. He's a war criminal. What he's done to his people is nothing more than disgusting," she added, according to Reuters.
Haley's comments come several days after she declared that the Trump administration does not consider it a priority that Assad be removed from power.
"Our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out. Our priority is to really look at how do we get things done, who do we need to work with to really make a difference for the people in Syria," she said. "We can't necessarily focus on Assad the way that the previous administration did.”
Those comments drew criticism, but Haley later clarified them, telling ABC News on Sunday that "Assad is always a priority" and the United States wants to bring him to justice.
"Our goal is to do what we need to to defeat ISIS (Islamic State). I don't know that our goal is to talk to Assad in doing that," Haley stressed on Monday.
"Now that could change and the administration could think otherwise, but right now Assad is not our No.1 person to talk to," said Haley, adding that the United States supports UN-led peace talks.