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Lavrov Denies Russia Losing Mideast Influence

RIA Novosti

18:45 23/10/2012 MOSCOW, October 23 (RIA Novosti) - The idea that Russia is losing influence in the Arab world as a result of the Arab Spring is "wishful thinking," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.

“We disagree with such opinions because our relations with the majority of the region’s most influential countries have either retained their intensity or even deepened,” Lavrov said in an interview with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta government daily.

He said that such statements were “wishful thinking and an attempt to set certain forces against us.”

“Serious countries and serious opposition figures… see Russia as a factor contributing to stability,” Lavrov added.

“No matter what happens, Russia would still be treated as a reliable partner and an important guarantor of geopolitical balance, just like it used to be in the past, when the region was freeing itself from colonial rule,” Lavrov said. “There is no prejudice against Russia [in the region].”

Triggered by the December 2010 revolution in Tunisia, the Arab Spring resulted in the overthrow of regimes in Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

It also triggered a civil conflict in Syria, which has claimed up to 30,000 lives since March 2011, according to latest UN estimates.

Russia has been widely criticized for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and vetoing two UN Security Council resolutions on Syria.

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