Russia invites Syrian opposition chief for talks



Moscow: Russia has sent an invitation for talks to the head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Friday.

Bogdanov said Russia was ready to hold talks over the 21-month-old Syrian conflict with 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 formed in November, has been recognised as the legitimate ruler of the Middle East state by Western powers, but has been criticised by Moscow.

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

Brahimi, the UN and Arab League's envoy for Syria, is due to visit Moscow 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 the lives of more than 44,000 people.

"We will listen to what Lakhdar Brahimi will tell us about the current situation in Syria," Bogdanov said.

A meeting between Bogdanov, Brahimi and US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns will take place in January.

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

IANS