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CIA Director Visited Moscow to Discuss Syria

FILE - CIA Director John Brennan appears at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on world wide threats on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan visited Moscow at the beginning of March, it was revealed Monday.

News of the CIA chief’s visit to the Russian capital was first made public on Monday by a Russian foreign ministry spokesman and subsequently confirmed by the CIA.

“It’s no secret that Brennan was here,” the Interfax news agency quoted foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Syromolotov as telling journalists in Moscow.

He added that the visit was not linked to Moscow’s decision to start withdrawing military forces from Syria, which President Vladimir Putin announced on March 14.

Dean Boyd, director of the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs, confirmed Monday that Brennan visited Moscow.

"Director Brennan traveled to Russia in early March to emphasize with Russian officials the importance of Russia and the Assad regime following through on their agreements to implement the cessation of hostilities in Syria,” said Boyd.

He added that Brennan “also reiterated the U.S. government’s consistent support for a genuine political transition in Syria, and the need for Assad’s departure in order to facilitate a transition that reflects the will of the Syrian people.”

Foreign ministry spokesman Syromolotov was quoted as saying that Brennan, while in Moscow, visited the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s main security agency, and “somewhere else,” but not the foreign ministry.

Russia’s Tass state news agency quoted President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, as saying on Monday that Brennan had not met with anyone in the Kremlin recently.

VOA National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this story.