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Russia, Arabs agree on need to move forward on Syria

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CAIRO: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Cairo on Sunday with Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi for talks about the Syrian conflict, agreeing on the need to move forward but finding little common ground.

"We discussed the situation in Syria... reviewing what has been done so far and if there is any way to move forward. And let us be clear, there wasn't any agreement on anything," Arabi told a joint news conference.

"But we discussed all aspects of the situation. Both parties discussed the importance of moving forward. There are various ideas but nothing definite," he added.

Lavrov stressed the need to "convince the Syrian parties to cease-fire and sit down for negotiations in accordance with the Geneva agreement," referring to a Russian-backed transition plan world powers agreed on June 30.

Russia's foreign ministry said Lavrov was travelling to Egypt for talks about Syria with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr, although it was unclear when they would meet.

The discussions would also touch on the situation in Libya a year after the Arab Spring-inspired armed uprising that ousted the regime of former Russian ally Muammar al-Gaddafi, the ministry in Moscow said.

Lavrov was then scheduled to head for Jordan on Monday for talks with King Abdullah II and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, according to Judeh.

"The Russian foreign minister is visiting Jordan tomorrow and the day after," to discuss the Syrian crisis, Judeh told reporters after meeting his Kuwaiti counterpart in the Gulf emirate.

"Talks and dialogue with Russia must continue. It is part of the international effort to stop violence and killing in Syria," said Judeh.

The Syrian conflict erupted in March 2011 when forces of President Bashar al-Assad, Moscow's last major ally in the region, moved to crush pro-reform protests, triggering an armed uprising.

More than 36,000 people have been killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Judeh appealed for greater international assistance for Syrian refugees ahead of winter, saying that so far more than 210,000 of them have crossed the border into Jordan.

Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Sabah, meanwhile, said that a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers and Lavrov would take place mid-November to discuss Syria, but he did not specify the location.

November 6 2012, 09:57

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