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Russia, Qatar To Encourage Syrian Opposition To Talk To Government

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that Russia and Qatar have agreed to encourage the Syrian opposition to sit down for talks with the Damascus government.

Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah visited Moscow on December 25 and held talks with Lavrov.

Lavrov said he sees more willingness from Assad's opponents, like Qatar, to start talks between the Syrian government and the opposition.

While Moscow is a longtime ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Qatar and other Middle Eastern countries accuse him of war crimes.

"We should probably admit that one of the most vital issues on Syria is the differences, including between Russia, Qatar and some other countries, on the legitimacy of the current Syrian leadership," Lavrov said at a news conference following the talks.

Based on reporting by AP and Interfax