Russian President Vladimir Putin joked during a meeting with Bashar al-Assad last week that the Syrian president should invite U.S. President Trump to Damascus.
In a video of the conversation between Assad and Putin at the Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in Damascus, Assad mentions the Apostle Paul’s conversion to Christianity after a vision at the gate of Damascus, Axios reported.
“If Trump arrives along this road, everything will become normal with him too,” the Syrian leader said, according to the news outlet.
“It will be repaired … invite him. He will come,” Putin reportedly responds, with Assad responding that he is prepared to invite Trump and Putin resolving to pass the message along.
The White House announced late last year that U.S. forces would leave northeastern Syria, which was shortly followed by an incursion into the region by Turkish forces before a U.S. delegation brokered a ceasefire between Turkey and Kurdish forces.
Trump has since approved a mission to secure Syrian oil fields, prompting a top advisor to Assad to warn in late December that Trump was “talking about stealing” Syrian oil.
Assad believes “our land should be totally and completely liberated from foreign occupiers, whether they are terrorists, or the Turks or the Americans,” Bouthaina Shaaban told NBC News.