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Russian foreign minister warns Syria peace talks mustn't focus squarely on Assad's departure

FILE - In this Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015 file photo, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends a meeting with U.N. Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien in Moscow, Russia. Russia's foreign minister said Monday Nov. 9, 2015, the next round of Syria talks expected to be held this weekend must not focus squarely on demands for Syrian President Bashar Assad's resignation, which he called a "simplistic approach." The talks should focus instead on reaching consensus on who should represent the Syrian opposition and who should be considered extremists. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)

FILE - In this Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015 file photo, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends a meeting with U.N. Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien in Moscow, Russia. Russia's foreign minister said Monday Nov. 9, 2015, the next round of Syria talks expected to be held this weekend must not focus squarely on demands for Syrian President Bashar Assad's resignation, which he called a "simplistic approach." The talks should focus instead on reaching consensus on who should represent the Syrian opposition and who should be considered extremists. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)  (The Associated Press)

Russia's foreign minister says the next round of Syria talks expected to be held this weekend must not focus squarely on demands for Syrian President Bashar Assad's resignation.

Sergey Lavrov, speaking on a trip to Armenia on Monday, said some of the participants in the talks have kept pushing for Assad to step down, in what he described as a "simplistic approach."

The first round of Vienna talks on Oct. 30 left open the thorny question of when Assad might leave power.

Lavrov said the talks should focus on reaching consensus on who should represent the Syrian opposition and who should be considered extremists. He said the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League should be invited to join the following round of Vienna talks.