A top Russian official said Thursday that Moscow has initiated contacts with representatives of the team of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to discuss Syria.
“This is an important turning point: the arrival of President-elect Donald Trump's new team,” the Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as telling journalists in the Russian capital. “We are already starting contacts with people who are likely to help the new president.”
"We hope that the outgoing and the incoming administrations will proceed from the fact that without Russia, the Syrian problem is impossible to solve, [and we are] ready to open candid dialogue," Bogdanov said.
Kissinger expected to meet with Trump
It was not immediately clear to whom the Russian official was referring, given that the U.S. president-elect has not yet staffed his Cabinet, including the posts of secretary of state and secretary of defense, or named his national security adviser.
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was reportedly set to meet Thursday with Trump in New York.
Kissinger met with President Vladimir Putin on a trip to Russia this past February, and was elected an international member of the Russian Academy of Sciences last month.
Obama highly critical of Russia
Putin telephoned congratulations to Trump Monday and said Russia was ready for a “partner-like dialogue” with the United States. They also discussed working together against terrorism and “a settlement for the crisis in Syria,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
The Obama administration has been highly critical of Russia's airstrikes in Syria. Moscow claims they are targeting terrorists, including Islamic State and other jihadist groups, but Washington says they are in fact targeting rebel forces fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and killing and injuring large numbers of civilians.
The U.S. has called for an international war crimes investigation of the Russian military's actions in Syria.