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Russia says it's ready to meet with Syrian opposition coalition

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, welcomes his Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Kamel Amr prior to a meeting in Moscow on Friday, Dec. 28, 2012. (AP photo) (The Associated Press)

Russia's foreign minister says Moscow has proposed talks with the main Syrian opposition coalition, despite previous Russian criticism of Western countries' recognition of the group.

Sergey Lavrov told a news conference on Friday that Russia has contacted the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces through the Russian Embassy in Egypt and "we expressed readiness to conduct a meeting" with coalition leader Mouaz al-Khatib.

The statement comes in the wake of comments by officials, including President Vladimir Putin, that suggest Russia is resigned to its longtime ally Syrian President Bashar Assad losing power.

The opposition coalition was formed in November and recognized by Western countries as legitimate representatives of the Syrian people. Russia has criticized such recognition as running counter to agreements to seek political transition in Syria.

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