Russia to keep out of 'Friends of Syria'

Feb. 21, 2012 at 12:20 PM
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MOSCOW, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Russia says it will not attend a meeting of the Friends of Syria coalition in Tunisia.

The international coalition, scheduled to meet Friday to discuss ways to end the violence in Syria, is expected to call for the resignation of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Voice of America reported Tuesday.

The Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported Russia would participate, quoting Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdesselam.

Alexander Lukashevich, spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said Tuesday that Russia had never agreed to participate. "Officially we were not informed who will take part in the conference or what the agenda will be," he said. "Most importantly, it is unclear what the actual goal of the initiative is."

RIA Novosti said Russia is opposed to the meeting because representatives of the Syrian government were not invited.

"Taking into account all these circumstances, we consider it is not possible for us to participate in the meeting," Lukashevich said.

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