In an explosive report from the Washington Post, it has been revealed that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) set up a secret meeting between Erik Prince, the founder of private military company Blackwater, and a Russian who is a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The January meeting was allegedly done as part of an effort to try to establish a backchannel line of communication between Russia and then-President-elect Donald Trump.

What is known about the meeting

The meeting took place in the Seychelles, an island country in the Indian Ocean off of the coast of East Africa, before Donald Trump became president.

The UAE supposedly agreed to organize the meeting to see if Russia could be persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, including their involvement in Syria's civil war. This is not only a goal of Trump's administration, but also something that the UAE would want since they are allies with Saudi Arabia and against Iran. The meeting also took place over two days and has supposedly been examined by the FBI as part of their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The FBI declined to comment on the matter and White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that the White House was not aware of any meetings.

Who is Erik Prince and how is he connected to Trump?

Erik Prince is a former U.S.

Navy SEAL officer and is the founder and former CEO of Blackwater. He had no formal role during Trump's campaign or transition team, but at the meeting he introduced himself to UAE officials as an unofficial emissary for Donald Trump. Prince donated $250,000 to support Trump's presidential campaign and was seen at Trump transition team offices.

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He also has connections to Trump's team having done interviews and written articles on Steve Bannon's website Breitbart. Prince's sister is also Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos. He also had contracts with UAE's government when at Blackwater, being paid a reported $529 million. Prince and his meeting with Russia only adds to the growing web connecting key members around President Trump with Russia.