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Russia says Paris meeting hurts Syria peace talks

Russia said on Thursday it was skipping a meeting of foreign ministers on Syria in Paris as they were only aimed at isolating the regime and would hurt the chances of direct peace talks.

“It seems that this meeting is not aimed at finding the grounds for dialogue within Syria, but quite the opposite,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Thursday’s meeting in Paris is aimed “at deepening the contradictions between the opposition and Damascus by promoting the international isolation of the latter,” the statement added.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe was to host US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and their 12 counterparts later Thursday for talks France said would send a “strong” call to the regime to abide by Kofi Annan’s peace plan.

Russia said the meeting differed little from two previous Friends of Syria conferences that Moscow also skipped because they included calls for President Bashar al-Assad’s ouster.

The foreign ministry said the Paris meeting was as “one-sided” as the Friends of Syria talks because it failed to include representatives from the Syrian regime.

The statement added that those interested in open dialogue “should not engage in destructive political amateurism” and show open support for Annan’s six-point peace plan.