BEIRUT

Middle East

EU-sanctioned Assad adviser in Oslo for secret talks

File - Bouthaina Shaaban, advisor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaks to the media after a meeting at the Geneva Conference on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva January 30, 2014. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

BEIRUT: Syrian President Bashar Assad’s political and media adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban, the target of EU and U.S. sanctions, is in Oslo for secret talks, reports said Friday.

As Norway is not in the European Union, any visit to Oslo would not be in contravention of the travel ban against her, part of the sanctions package which has targeted many members of Assad’s oligarchy.

Shaaban visited Switzerland – also not in the EU – in January, for a second round of Geneva talks between the Syrian regime and opposition which ultimately failed to make any headway.

The EU sanctions against her were issued two years ago.

She is in Oslo to take part in closed-door talks with Arab and European officials, and Syrian opposition figures, diplomatic officials told Al Hayat newspaper.

The event is sponsored by the Oslo Forum: The Center for Humanitarian Dialogue, the report said.

The Oslo Forum could not confirm to The Daily Star whether Shaaban was in attendance, but said that a meeting was taking place.

The Norwegian group works to mediate armed conflicts across the globe by bringing together key actors and experts in “informal and discreet retreats,” according to its website.

Shaaban was in Moscow earlier in the week, and met Monday with the Kremlin’s Middle East envoy, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, according to Russian news agencies.

The two discussed the ongoing situation in Syria, a conflict which has now killed at least 160,000 people.

Russia, along with Iran, is a key ally to the Syrian regime.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 21, 2014, on page 10.

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Summary

Syrian President Bashar Assad's political and media adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban, the target of EU and U.S. sanctions, is in Oslo for secret talks, reports said Friday.

Shaaban visited Switzerland – also not in the EU – in January, for a second round of Geneva talks between the Syrian regime and opposition which ultimately failed to make any headway.

The EU sanctions against her were issued two years ago.

She is in Oslo to take part in closed-door talks with Arab and European officials, and Syrian opposition figures, diplomatic officials told Al Hayat newspaper.


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