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Russia Insists on Iran Inclusion in Proposed Syria Meeting

Russia insists that Iran must be invited to a meeting of countries that have influence over Syria’s opposition groups and government as proposed by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“We hope this proposal will be examined today by United Nations and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan and the UN secretary general,” Alexander Lukashevich, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in comments broadcast on state television today. “It is our firm view that we can’t do without the participation of this state as well as other countries in the region.”

Russia and China are seeking to press the Syrian opposition to support peace efforts by Annan. The two nations, along with the U.S., the U.K., France, the European Union, the Organization of Islamic Conference and Arab League States, Turkey and Iran should take part in the meeting, Lavrov said in Beijing yesterday after two days of meetings between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leaders including his counterpart, Hu Jintao.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed doubt over the Russian initiative to invite Iran, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“It’s a little hard to imagine inviting a country that is stage-managing the Assad regime’s assault on its people,” Clinton said yesterday in Baku, Azerbaijan.

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