Donald Trump Jr. Discussed Syria Conflict With pro-Russia Advocates in October

After Paris event, head of Syrian opposition group touts that she succeeded in conveying importance of Russian-U.S. cooperation on Syria through contact with President-elect Trump's eldest son.

Son of President-elect Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., walks out of an the elevator at Trump Tower in New York, November 16, 2016.
Carolyn Kaster, AP

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's eldest son met with a diplomats, politicians and businesspeople last month at a forum focused in part on finding a solution to the Syrian conflict through cooperation with Russia.

The discussions with the pro-Russia figures took place in Paris at an event hosted by a French think tank, the Center of Political and Foreign Affairs, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The think tank's founder, Fabien Baussart, and his wife Randa Kassis have been closely working with Moscow on ending the war in Syria. Syrian-born Kassis is the head of the secular opposition group Movement for a Pluralistic Society, which is endorsed by Russia and favors the removal of President Bashar Assad through political transition.

Speaking to Sputnik News, a state-controlled Russian media agency, Kassis said that through her conversations with Trump, Jr., she succeeded in conveying "the idea of how we can cooperate together to reach the agreement between Russia and the United States on Syria" to the elder Trump.

"Russia and the United States will reach accord on the issue of the Syrian crisis, because of Trump's victory," she said.

The meeting raised further questions about the meshing of Trump's family members, his business interests and foreign leaders. Trump was criticized after his daughter Ivanka Trump attended his first meeting as president-elect with a world leader, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, last week.

According to the Journal, Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway confirmed the October 11 meeting but downplayed its significance.

“Don was addressing a roundtable in Paris, and she was present for that talk and at a group dinner for 30 people,” she responded in an email. “This event featured a number of opinion leaders from all over the world who were interested in the U.S. elections.”

During his election campaign, Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and suggested that cooperation with Russia would bring an end to the Syrian conflict. Some foreign policy experts believe that Russia's involvement in Syria has propped up the Assad regime and targeted rebels opposed to it rather than Islamic State militants.

In a phone call after Trump's victory, the president-elect and Putin agreed to "combine efforts to tackle international terrorism and extremism."