President-elect Donald Trump has received invitation by Russia to Syrian peace talks set to commence in late January, reports claim.
An anonymous transition official speaking with the Washington Post outlet, confirmed the invitation was made during a Dec. 28 phone call between Russia’s ambassador in Washington D.C., Sergey Kislyak, and Michael T. Flynn, Trump’s prospective national security adviser.
Turkish and Iranian representatives are expected to attend the talks scheduled to tentatively commence Jan. 23, in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan. According to Turkish media on Friday, although the anonymous official stated that “no decision was made” during the call, an official spokesman for President Erdogan confirmed the United States will attend.
“It remains unclear which of the non-terrorist opposition groups, variously backed by the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and others in the region, will attend the talks,” the Post writes.
Previously, a meeting between Iran, Russia and Turkey in Moscow on Dec. 20 to discuss the cessation of the Syrian conflict declined to extend the invitation to the Obama administration.
The six-year confrontation in Syria has placed the Assad government – and its allies Iran and Russia – against the Syrian opposition, backed by the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, including al-Qaeda-allied fighters. Last year saw a leadership battle between Moscow and Washington, both accusing the other side of sabotaging peace talk efforts for the war-torn nation.
The Post noted how “U.S. participation, especially if an agreement is reached, would be the first indication of the enhanced U.S.-Russia cooperation that President Vladimir Putin and President-elect Donald Trump have forecast under a Trump administration.”
Contrary to the reports of the Kislyak-Flynn phone call, Flynn downplayed the context as an exchange of “Merry Christmas” texts and a request by Kislak for a phone conversation post Trump’s inauguration to discuss the tabled meeting in Kazakhstan.
“That was it, plain and simple,” Flynn stated.
A self-confessed pragmatist on Russia, Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State nominee said on Wednesday that “Russia, Syria, Turkey and Iran are dictating the terms of how things are going to play out in Syria today, absent our participation.” He further called for the U.S. engagement in the Syrian conflict to be increased and made it known that Russia is not a friend of the U.S. but could be a partner.
Last year saw a leadership battle between Moscow and Washington, both accusing the other side of sabotaging peace talk efforts for the war-torn nation.
Trump during his campaign, repeatedly questioned the rebels’ ideological stance in the Syrian war, and called for an increased United States-Russian cooperation in the fight against ISIS.
Meanwhile, Turkey who has coordinated the Jan. 23 talks with Russia agrees that the United States should be present for the slated discussions.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday “The United States should definitely be invited, and that is what we agreed with Russia … Nobody can ignore the role of the United States.”
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