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US, Russia hold talks on Syria

Meanwhile, violence continues in Syria with activists stating it has been a particularly bloody week around the nation’s capital.

In this image taken from AP video, thick black smoke rises over the Damascus skyline after a powerful explosion rocked the Syrian capital yesterday.
In this image taken from AP video, thick black smoke rises over the Damascus skyline after a powerful explosion rocked the Syrian capital yesterday.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE TOP US and Russian diplomats have held talks on Syria ahead of an international conference on Saturday that aims to ease Syrian President Bashar Assad from power.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met for about an hour today in St. Petersburg to discuss the current situation.

Lavrov told reporters afterward that they agree “on most things”.

However, over the past 16 months the US has on a number occasions said that it wants Assad to step aside and allow for a democratic process, while Russia opposes any “external meddling” in Syrian affairs.

UN mediator Kofi Annan hopes that Saturday’s international meeting will lead to calls for a national unity government in Syria.

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Meanwhile in Syria

On the ground in Damascus, Syrian troops bombarded a rebellious suburb with tank and artillery shells today, killing dozens of people. Activists have said that it has been a particularly bloody few days across the country.

It’s difficult to get an accurate death toll in tightly controlled Syria, where journalists and human rights groups are either banned or severely restricted. But two opposition groups that compile and document casualties reported the death of more than 125 civilians in fighting across the country on Thursday alone.

Death tolls often take several days to compile because of the restrictions and chaos in the country.

Earlier this week: Syrian violence has worsened since ceasefire, says UN>

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