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Russian, Egyptian Envoys Urge Cease-Fire In Syria

December 28, 2012

MOSCOW -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has met in Moscow with his Egyptian counterpart, Muhammad Amr, for talks that included discussion of the ongoing crisis in Syria.

After the December 28 meeting, Lavrov told journalists the international community must stop pressuring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down and should avoid establishing preconditions for negotiations.

'The international community should not incite any party to continue bloodshed or put forward any preconditions but encourage all fighting parties to take the path outlined by the Geneva communique,' Lavrov said.

In Geneva in June, officials representing the five permanent member of the UN Security Council and several other Middle East states agreed on steps for establishing a transitional government in Syria.

At the December 28 news conference, Lavrov said that Moscow is prepared to meet with members of the Syrian opposition.

'We have already established contact, through our embassy in Cairo, with the leadership of the [Syrian opposition] coalition,' Lavrov said. 'We have expressed readiness to meet with the [coalition] chairman, Mr. [Mouaz] al-Khatib. We are still ready to do that and, as we understand, they don't have any objections to such a meeting.'

He also said Assad is willing to meet with opposition representatives for talks based on the June 30 Geneva communique.

However, dpa quoted Syrian opposition spokesperson Walid al-Bunni as saying that 'we will only accept a political solution that does not include any of Assad's family.'

Lavrov criticized the Syrian opposition's refusal to deal with Assad.

'We were disappointed that [the Syrian opposition coalition], in its political statement issued at the time of its establishment in Doha, stated as its main objective the overthrow of the regime and the dismantling of all institutions,' Lavrov said.

UN-Arab League envoy on Syria Lakhdar Brahimi is expected in Moscow for talks with Lavrov on December 29. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Brahimi was also scheduled to hold talks in the United States in January.

On December 27, Lavrov met in Moscow with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Makdad.

With additional reporting by AP and Interfax

Source: ministers-urge-ceasefire-syria/24810865.html

Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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