(Washington) The United States reiterated on Tuesday its refusal of any normalization with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, at a time when several Arab countries, including the Emirates, have resumed contact with Damascus since the devastating earthquake in early February.

“We will not normalize our relations with the Assad regime or encourage others to do so until there is genuine progress towards a political settlement” of the conflict in Syria, the spokesman said. State Department, Vedant Patel, to reporters.

“We continue to urge anyone who engages with Damascus to sincerely and fully consider how this can help the most deprived Syrians, wherever they live,” he added.

The president of the United Arab Emirates received his Syrian counterpart on Sunday, telling him that it was time for Damascus to return to the Arab fold, during a meeting in Abu Dhabi, state media reported.

This was the Syrian president’s second visit to the Gulf since the earthquake in Syria in early February.

The Syrian president, whose country was expelled from the Arab League at the end of 2011, visited the Sultanate of Oman on February 20.

President Assad also traveled to Moscow, where he was received by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

The Syrian leader has been isolated on the international scene since the 2011 crackdown on a popular uprising that degenerated into a civil war. Since the earthquake in Syria, Arab countries have intensified their contacts and sent aid to Damascus.