Donald Trump’s son held secret talks on working with Russia to end Syria conflict

Donald Trump’s eldest son held talks in Paris about collaborating with Russia to end the Syrian conflict – the latest indication of both the President-elect’s likelihood to work with Moscow, and of the way he may include family members as part of his administration.

Donald Trump Jr, 38, participated in discussions last month, that included think tank founder Fabien Baussart and his wife, Randa Kassis. The Wall Street Journal said Ms Kassis is a leader of a Syrian opposition group that is backed by the Kremlin.

While the US has opposed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has funded rebels opposed to him, Russia has used its military force to protect his regime and attack rival opposition groups. Ms Kassis’ group reportedly seeks a political transition through cooperation with Mr Assad.

“Russia intervened to save the country, for the sake of Syria,” Ms Kassis told  Al-Jazeera this week. “The problem is that you don’t know the Russians, you don’t understand the Russians … you just accuse the Russians of being against the opposition but you need to understand them.”

The meeting at the Paris Ritz was held on 11 October. Reports said Ms Kassis is reportedly viewed as pro-regime because she advocates political transition in cooperation with Mr Assad, and because of her strong support of Russian intervention.

Ms Kassis told the paper from Moscow: “We have to be realistic. Who’s on the ground in Syria? Not the US, not France. Without Russia, we can’t have any solution in Syria.”

Of the president-elect’s eldest son, she said: “I think he’s very pragmatic and is flexible.”

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