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Moscow starts GCC diplomacy over Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Riyadh for talks with his Arab counterparts in the Gulf yesterday that are expected to highlight differences on the conflict in Syria.
Lavrov began his visit by meeting with Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal, an AFP correspondent reported.
Lavrov’s meeting with the foreign ministers of the GCC states would focus on Syria.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev yesterday criticized countries siding with the Syrian opposition and insisted Moscow was staying neutral in the conflict.
“We don’t support anybody in this conflict, neither President Assad nor the rebels, contrary to what people generally think,” Medvedev said.
The US, meanwhile, refused to follow France in fully recognizing a fledgling Syrian opposition coalition yesterday, saying the body must prove its worth.
Fighters killed at least 18 soldiers as they overran a military post near Syria’s border with Turkey yesterday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The clashes — which also left an unknown number of soldiers wounded — took place near Ras Al-Ain, a border town that the opposition fighters seized on Friday.
Please read a related story on Page 7

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