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US, Russia, UN to meet Syrian opposition on Saturday

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 1 Feb 2013 08:36 GMT
Author: Reuters
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AMMAN, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Senior officials from the United States, Russia, the United Nations will meet the Syrian opposition in Munich on Saturday to discuss a political transition in the country, Syrian opposition sources said.

The meeting will be the first where the United States sits down with Russia, which has influence with the Syrian military, and the Syrian opposition in a new push to end the civil war which has left 60,000 dead.

Syrian National Coalition President Moaz Alkhatib will meet U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, Syrian Coalition officials said on Friday.

The meeting, on the sidelines of the Conference of Security and Cooperation in Europe, comes after Alkhatib survived a challenge to his authority after saying he would be willing to talk with Syrian officials without Assad stepping down first.

"Alkhatib was informed by Brahimi that it will be a four-way meeting. He is going to Munich alone," a high-level Coalition member said.

"I think Russia warmed to the meeting after Alkhatib's proposal (to talk to Syria officials). The Coalition has adopted a position of constructive vagueness on whether Assad should step down first for a transition to happen, and it has stirred things up," the Coalition member said.

(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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