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Lavrov urges Syrian opposition to talk to regime

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The Syrian opposition should enter into talks with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and put together a negotiating team, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday after talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

"We are counting on the opposition, who will be meeting with representatives of Western and a number of regional countries in Rome, to also declare itself in favour of dialogue because they have voiced contradictory statements on that account and not only declare but also name their negotiating team," Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying in Berlin.

Lavrov earlier Tuesday slammed "extremists" within the Syrian opposition he said were blocking the start of dialogue in war-torn Syria.

On Monday he hosted Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem in Moscow, who in a ground-breaking statement said the Assad regime was ready for talks with armed rebels.

"They (representatives of the Assad regime) assured us that they both have a negotiating team and are ready to start dialogue as soon as possible," Lavrov was quoted as saying in Berlin.

He added that he and Kerry agreed at the meeting to do their best to help start talks in the war-torn country.

"On Syria the most important is that we confirmed our common understanding of the intolerance of continuing violence and through this intolerance our determination to do everything that depends on Russia and the United States," Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying.

"Of course, not everything depends on us but what does depend we will do to create conditions that will facilitate the start of dialogue between the government and the opposition as soon as possible.

"No-one will solve their problems for Syrians but in order for this decision to begin being discussed it is necessary to sit down at the negotiating table."

bur-as/jmm

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130226/lavrov-urges-syrian-opposition-talk-regime