Friday, February 1, 2013

Moscow, U.N. play down report of four-way Syria talks


AMMAN (Reuters) - Moscow and the United Nations played downSyrian opposition assertions that its leader would hold a joint meeting with the U.N. Syria envoy and officials from the United States and Russia at a security conference in Munich on Saturday.
But a Russian diplomatic source did not rule out a meeting taking place 'spontaneously' at the weekend Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in the southern German city.
If it occurred it would be the first time the United States and Russia, who have been at loggerheads over whether President Bashar al-Assad can have a role in a transitional government, had sat down together with the opposition.
Opposition sources had said early on Friday that National Coalition President Moaz Alkhatib would meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and U.N. envoyLakhdar Brahimi on the sidelines of the conference.
But a U.N. official and a senior Russian diplomat said there no plans for them all to meet together.
"The U.N. special envoy is not involved in any trilateral meetings," a U.N. official in Munich said, though Brahimi did plan separate meetings with Biden, Alkhatib and Lavrov.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Lavrov was not scheduled to take part in expanded talks.