Russian TV host invites McCain on popular talk show

A Russian state television presenter said Sunday he had invited US Senator John McCain to appear on his chat show to discuss his views on Syria.

Vladimir Solovyov, known for his pro-Kremlin stance, said he had invited the Republican senator, who opposes Russia's strategy on Syria, to appear on his live talk show, "Sunday Night."

"On behalf of VTRK (broadcaster) and myself, I invite Senator John McCain to appear live on Sunday Night," Solovyov wrote on Twitter.

"I decided to give Senator McCain the opportunity to say all he thinks about relations between Russia and the US and the chances of avoiding war in Syria," Solovyov told Rossiya 24 television.

He also said that the channel guaranteed that McCain "would have the chance to talk directly live to Russians."

"I have not yet received an answer," Solovyov said.

The powerful senator, who was the Republicans' nominee for president in 2008, backed US strikes against Syria and opposes the Russian and US deal on Damascus putting its chemical weapons under international control.

"Sunday Night" airs at 11:30 pm (1930 GMT) on Rossiya 1, one of the country's highest rating channels. Host Solovyov has written a book about President Vladimir Putin.

The invitation was unusual for Russian state television, which rarely gives airtime to foreigners except for Hollywood stars. It also barely shows Russian politicians with opposition views.

McCain has apparently agreed to write an op-ed for a Russian news website called Pravda.ru in response to Putin's opinion piece on the Syrian conflict in The New York Times last week.

Dmitry Sudakov, English-language editor at Pravda.Ru told AFP on Sunday that McCain would write for the website.

"He is going to write, yes. They said that he would have something ready in the next couple of days," Sudakov wrote in an email.

The website of US magazine Foreign Policy last week wrote that it had contacted Pravda.ru to ask if it would run a piece by McCain.

Its journalist then passed the suggestion to McCain, whose spokesman said he agreed to submit an article.

It was unclear whether McCain realised Pravda.ru now has no connection with the Pravda newspaper, a little-read organ of the Russian Communist Party that was once the must-read newspaper for Soviet officials.

The Pravda.ru website was started by former Pravda journalists in the late 1990s.

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