Middle East

Russia's Lavrov in Cairo for diplomatic flurry

The U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, during their meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, China Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Takuro Yabe, Pool)

CAIRO: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov flew to Cairo on Sunday as he kicked off a flurry of diplomatic activity focusing on the 19-month-old conflict in ally Syria.

After arriving, Lavrov was seen heading straight into talks over dinner with both Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi and Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN and Arab League peace envoy for Syria, an AFP correspondent reported.

Russia's foreign ministry confirmed Lavrov was travelling to Egypt and Jordan.

It said he would hold talks about Syria with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr, although it was unclear when.

The discussions would also touch on the situation in Libya a year after the Arab Spring-inspired armed uprising that ousted the regime of former Russian ally Moamer Kadhafi, the ministry in Moscow said.

Lavrov was then scheduled to head for Jordan on Monday for talks with King Abdullah II and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, according to Judeh.

"The Russian foreign minister is visiting Jordan tomorrow and the day after," to discuss the Syrian crisis, Judeh told reporters after meeting his Kuwaiti counterpart in the Gulf emirate.

"Talks and dialogue with Russia must continue. It is part of the international effort to stop violence and killing in Syria," said Judeh.

The Syrian conflict erupted in March 2011 when forces of President Bashar al-Assad, Moscow's last major ally in the region, moved to crush pro-reform protests, triggering an armed uprising.

More than 36,000 people have been killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Judeh appealed for greater international assistance for Syrian refugees ahead of winter, saying that so far more than 210,000 of them have crossed the border into Jordan.

Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Sabah, meanwhile, said that a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers and Lavrov would take place mid-November to discuss Syria, but he did not specify the location.





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