Russia’s envoy to Africa to meet with Syrian opposition leaders in Moscow

Russian presidential envoy to Africa Mikhail Margelov will hold talks with a delegation of Syrian opposition leaders in Moscow later on Friday.

A diplomatic source said the delegation arrived in Moscow on an invitation from a number of Russian non-governmental organizations.

The Russian Foreign Ministry is not planning to have separate contacts with the Syrian delegation, the source said.

The delegation is headed by Ammar Qurabi, the chairman of the Syrian opposition Conference of Change group and the president of the National Organisation for Human Rights in Syria. The delegation also includes representatives of Syria’s leftists, the Islamist Muslim Brothers organization, the Kurdish minority, as well as tribal leaders.

The talks will focus on the current political crisis in Syria and the changes occurring within the opposition.

More than 2,200 people have been killed in the crackdown on anti-government protests in Syria since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad broke out in March, according to UN estimates.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday, during a meeting with his French counterpart Alain Juppe in Moscow, that international support for the Syrian opposition could lead to “new bloodshed” in the country. He said the refusal of the Syrian opposition to hold talks with the government meant they were seeking international backing similar to that received by Libyan rebels.

After almost six months of fighting against Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s troops, the rebels in Libya, have managed to oust Gaddafi with the help of NATO airstrikes and establish control over most of the country. The Libyan Transitional National Council has been recognized by some 60 countries.

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