Representatives of the Obama Administration and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reportedly held hush-hush talks in Barcelona in late May.
The two sides agreed at the meeting to make common cause against a mutual enemy, terrorism, Nasser Sharara reports exclusively this morning for the Beirut daily al-Akhbar, mouthpiece of the Syria-Iran-Hezbollah triumvirate.
Sharara does not name the two sides’ representatives but says a “high-ranking State Department official” spoke on Washington’s behalf in Barcelona while a “Syrian religious figure” stood for the Damascus government.
Sharara claims the U.S. ambassador to Spain, Alan D. Solomont, was to attend the talks but “was bypassed at the last minute.”
He says, “It transpired from the meeting between the State Department official and the Syrian religious figure that Washington is concerned because Salafist extremists linked to al-Qaeda have infiltrated Syrian opposition ranks and it is imperative to eradicate them.”
Sharara adds, “The impression from the meeting in Barcelona is that Washington is amenable to two ideas: (1) fighting and stifling terror in Syria and (2) hammering out a political solution for Syria in association with Russia.”
Sharara also claims the White House will henceforth shape its Syria policy in partnership with the Pentagon, specifically with Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Derek Chollet.