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Putin tells Assad he should invite Trump to Damascus

Putin and Assad
Putin and Assad hold a meeting in Damascus, Jan. 7. Photo: Alexey Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

During his surprise visit to Syria last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, to invite President Trump to Damascus, according to a video of a short conversation between the two leaders aired Sunday on Russia-1 television channel.

What's happening: The video shows the leaders speaking to each other during a visit to the Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in Damascus. Assad tells Putin about the apostle Paul who became a Christian at the gate of Damascus and adds jokingly: "If Trump arrives along this road, everything will become normal with him too."

  • Putin laughs and tells Assad: “It will be repaired … invite him. He will come.” Assad answers that he is ready to invite Trump, to which Putin responds, smiling: “I will tell him."

Go deeper: Read Axios' two-part special report on "20 Years of Putin"