Russia asks for US help in rebuilding Syria: report

Russia asks for US help in rebuilding Syria: report
© Getty Images

Russian military officials reportedly proposed to the United States' top general last month that the U.S. and Russia cooperate to rebuild areas of Syria ravaged by civil war and repatriate thousands of refugees to the country.

Reuters, citing a U.S. government memo, reports that Valery Gerasimov, the head of the Russian military's general staff, proposed the plan to U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, using a secure line of communication.

The proposal has been met with little enthusiasm in Washington since it was suggested in July, according to Reuters.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The proposal argues that the Syrian regime lacks the equipment, fuel, other material, and funding needed to rebuild the country in order to accept refugee returns,” according to the memo reported by Reuters.

It also suggests that Russian officials have been describing the plan as a result of President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Vulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Trump appears to set personal record for tweets in a day MORE's controversial summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month in Helsinki.

“Russian diplomats and other officials have also been engaging in an aggressive campaign to describe the initiative in other capitals and to insinuate that it is an outcome of the U.S.-Russia meeting in Helsinki, which it is not, repeat not,” the memo states.

Dunford's office declined to comment for the report, citing the general's policy of keeping discussions with Russia private.

“In accordance with past practice, both Generals have agreed to keep the details of their conversations private," said spokeswoman Captain Paula Dunn.

The memo, written by the Defense Department, goes on to state that the U.S. would not accept any repatriation of refugees without guarantees for their safety and voluntary movement.

“The United States will only support refugee returns when they are safe, voluntary and dignified,” the memo reads.

Trump faced criticism over his statements made after the summit with Putin, in which he appeared to side with Russia over his own intelligence agencies on the issue of election interference.

The president later clarified his remarks, stating that he agreed with the U.S. intelligence assessment on Russian interference, but has continued to say that the U.S. should work more closely with Russia on shared interests.