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Fabius: Syria opposition leader to visit Moscow mid-Jan
Syrian opposition leader Ahmed Jarba (R) shakes hands with French President Francois Hollande (L) after a meeting in Riyadh December 29, 2013. REUTERS/Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool
Syrian opposition leader Ahmed Jarba (R) shakes hands with French President Francois Hollande (L) after a meeting in Riyadh December 29, 2013. REUTERS/Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool
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BEIRUT: Syrian opposition leader Ahmad Jarba would hold talks with officials in Russia mid-January, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in comments published in pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper Monday.

In early December, Jarba, who heads Syria’s main opposition group the Syrian National Coalition, said he had received an invitation from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to visit Moscow through Russian’s deputy foreign minister.

Fabius, heading to Saudi Arabia along with President Francois Hollande on an official visit to the Arab kingdom, added that the Syrian National Coalition would also hold a meeting to decide on the delegation for the Geneva 2 conference on Syria.

A Friends of Syria meeting would also be held in London in January, the French official told the paper.

Fabius said Paris and Riyadh shared the same position with regard to developments in Syria, adding that Paris was pushing for the Geneva 2 talks for dialogue is the best solution to the crisis.

The French officials said Fabius and Hollande would discuss the Geneva 2 talks with Jarba because of France’s support to the Syrian National Coalition.

Fabius said the Coalition needed to take part in the Geneva 2 conference and respect its goals.

He said the talks should coincide with pressure on the warring sides and the United Nations to help secure humanitarian aid in Syria.

Fabius also recognized the difficulties facing the Geneva 2 conference, saying while some sought to focus on the Geneva 1 conference and the need for a transitional government enjoying executive powers, Syrian regime officials were voicing different objectives for the talks.

He stressed that France supported the moderate opposition in Syria and not terror groups, the latter he said the regime of President Bashar Assad was using and was in a form of alliance with.

The French official also said as long as Assad remained, terror groups in Syria would persist.

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