WASHINGTON – Russia’s ambassador in the United States invited the Donald Trump administration to join upcoming Syria peace talks during a phone call in December, according to a Trump spokesperson.
Incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak had invited Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn to the Syria peace talks during a phone call on Dec. 29, ABC News reported.
The phone call took place on the same day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and new sanctions as punishment for what it says amounted to meddling in the U.S. presidential election.
Spicer initially said the conversation focused solely on setting up a phone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump following his election, but he later revealed Kislyak extended an invitation to the peace talks during the call.
Talks brokered by Syrian ally Russia and rebel-supporting Turkey are set to take place in Astana, Kazakhstan, beginning January 23, three days after the Trump inauguration.
A spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the United States would attend the talks, but a transition official told the Washington Post that “no decision was made” during the phone call.
The Russian embassy in Washington provided no comment relating to the phone call between Kislyak and Flynn, but confirmed the ambassador will be present at Trump’s inauguration.