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U.S., Russian officials to discuss Syria

  |   June 5, 2012 at 9:55 AM
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MOSCOW, June 5 (UPI) -- With Russian President Vladimir Putin arriving Tuesday in Beijing, the Kremlin said it was expecting a visit by U.S. delegates to discuss the Syrian situation.

Putin is in China to discuss bilateral affairs. Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti said the countries are expected to sign 17 agreements on matters ranging from energy to technology.

Russia and China, two veto wielding members of the U.N. Security Council, have threatened to block resolutions that would formally censure the Syrian government for its role in the death of an estimated 9,000 people caught up in a crisis entering its second year.

Moscow maintains that diplomatic pressure on Syria lacks balance, expressing concern that Syrian rebels haven't lived up to the terms of a cease-fire brokered with the help of former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Frederick Hoff, a U.S. special envoy on the Middle East, is on his way to Moscow to discuss the crisis in Syria.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Tuesday that both sides have been discussing the issue over the telephone.

"Talks continue at various levels," he was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying. "We are meeting with Hillary Clinton's deputy who is responsible for the Middle East and Syria in particular and we are waiting for a state department visit here to Moscow in three days."

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