Russian deputy foreign minister to meet UN envoy, US counterpart on Syria conflict

The Interfax news agency is reporting that the U.N. envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, will meet Friday with top diplomats from Russia and the United States.

The agency quotes Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying he will meet Brahimi and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns in Geneva.

The meeting will take place less than a week after Syrian President Bashar Assad struck a defiant tone in a speech, ignoring international demands to step down and saying he would talk only with those "who have not betrayed Syria."

Russia has blocked several U.N. resolutions aimed at pressuring Assad, but Moscow says it is not propping up his regime. Top Russian officials in recent weeks have given signals they are resigned to Assad eventually losing power.