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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia Invites Syrian National Coalition Chief for Talks

RIA Novosti

10:49 28/12/2012

MOSCOW, December 28 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has sent an invitation for talks to the head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Friday.

Bogdanov told RIA Novosti that Russia is ready to hold talks over the 21-month-old Syrian conflict with National Coalition head Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib either in Moscow or any foreign location like Geneva or Cairo.

'The invitation has been passed on. Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib has received it,' Bogdanov said.

The Syrian National Coalition, the opposition grouping that was formed in November, has been recognized as the legitimate ruler of the Middle East state by Western powers, but has been critcized by Moscow.

Bogdanov said that US and Russian officials will meet with international peace envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi in January.

The UN and Arab League's envoy for Syria, Brahimi, is due to visit Moscow on Friday to meet Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as part of an effort to agree a plan to end the violent standoff in Syria that has taken lives of more than 44,000 people.

"We will listen to what Lakhdar Brahimi will tell us about the current situation in Syria, and will make a decision on a 'triple-B' meeting" of Bogdanov, Brahimi and US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, Bogdanov said. "But this meeting will take place in January now, after the holidays."

Their previous trilateral meeting was held in Geneva earlier this month behind closed doors.

An agreement reached by world powers in Geneva on June 30 that called for a transitional government in Syria that would help run the country until elections and a new constitution drafting.

The Foreign Ministry confirmed Thursday that Moscow will continue "trying to feel a way out of this situation on the basis of our common plan of action."

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