MESOP Syria Daily: CIA & Russia Discuss Assad’s Departure – JOHN BRENNAN

March 29 – by Scott Lucas – The director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, went to Moscow in early March to discuss the departure of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad from power, according to Russia’s State news agency.RIA said Brennan and Russian officials also discussed the observance of the February 27 cessation of hostilities in Syria: The CIA offered a rare confirmation, telling Reuters that Brennan visited Moscow in early March and that Syrian issues were on the agenda.

Brennan’s objective was “to emphasize with Russian officials the importance of Russia and the Assad regime following through on their agreements to implement the cessation of hostilities in Syria,” the CIA said in an e-mailed statement.

The CIA director reasserted American support for a “genuine political transition in Syria”, which would involve “Assad’s departure in order to facilitate a transition that reflects the will of the Syrian people”.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov said Brennan had meetings at the Federal Security Service and other offices, but insisted that his visit was not linked to the March 14 announcement by President Vladimir Putin of withdrawal of “most” Russian forces from Syria.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that there had been no contacts between Brennan and the Kremlin.