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Russia says Iran must be invited to Syria conference

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (2nd R) speaks during a meeting with his New Zealand counterpart Murray McCully in Moscow, November
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (2nd R) speaks during a meeting with his New Zealand counterpart Murray McCully in Moscow, November

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Tuesday Iran must be invited to a proposed peace conference on Syria, reiterating its stance after the main Syrian opposition leader said his coalition would not attend if Iran took part.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also criticized Syrian National Coalition chief Ahmad Jarba's demand for a clear time frame for President Bashar al-Assad to leave power, saying there should be no preconditions for the "Geneva 2" peace talks.

"All those with influence on the situation must certainly be invited ... this includes not only Arab countries but also Iran," Lavrov told a news conference when asked about Jarba's statement.

Two of Lavrov's deputies were due to meet U.S. diplomats and U.N.-Arab League Syria peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on Tuesday in Geneva to discuss efforts to convene the long-delayed conference first proposed by the United States and Russia in May.

(Writing by Steve Gutterman, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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