Back from her visit to Damascus, Syria, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D – HI) offered new details about the four-day visit, confirming that she met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, insisting she believes that the US needs to be willing to meet with anyone if there is a possibility for peace.
Gabbard’s visit to Damascus was announced by her office last week, but a lot of the details were withheld, citing security. At the time, they only said she had met with several government leaders without offering any names, though even at the time, there was substantial speculation Assad was among them.
Gabbard is a long-time critic of US policy in Syria, and has introduced legislation in the past trying to stop the US from arming rebel factions. President Trump has also expressed aversion to that policy and an interest in shifting the Syrian War dramatically.
Indeed, since Gabbard and Trump had already met since the election, amid reports she was under consideration for an important cabinet position, there has been some speculation that the visit was a short of “unofficial” attempt at sideline diplomacy by the new administration.
Syria is currently engaged in peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan. The United States did not send a delegation to those talks, however, citing how soon it was after the inauguration.