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Lavrov says Russia, U.N. agree on Syria

  |   May 17, 2013 at 12:22 PM
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SOCHI, Russia, May 17 (UPI) -- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday he and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are in agreement on the future of Syria.

Lavrov, who met with Ban during the U.N. chief's visit to Russia, said the pair are unanimous in their agreement the Syrian conflict should be settled without any interference from the outside, ITAR-Tass reported.

"The settlement of the Syrian crisis can be found along the lines of All-Syria dialogue involving all Syrian forces, without outside interference," Lavrov was quoted as saying.

Lavrov said Russia and the United Nations "are highly interested in seeing Syria remain an integrated sovereign state.

Ban was later scheduled to discuss sanctions on Syria and other issues with Russian President Vladimir Putin, officials said Friday.

Russia has come under criticism for its unwillingness to impose sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime but the Russian government has said it has no interest in seeing Assad remain in power, RIA Novosti said.

The Russian government has been pressing to involve Iran and Saudi Arabia in Syrian talks and has accused the United States of trying to narrow the field of participants in those discussions, Voice of America reported.

In addition to Syria, the Russian presidential press service said talks between Putin and Ban would touch on the Middle East, North Africa, the Korean Peninsula, the Iranian nuclear program, the Mali conflict and the Cypress settlement.

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