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Putin plots Syria strategy with Iran's Zarif in talks today

Published on Jan 16, 2014 12:27 PM

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia launches a fresh round of Syrian diplomacy on Thursday when it receives the foreign minister of Iran before hosting his counterpart from Syria ahead of historic peace talks on the bloody crisis.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin will also cover Teheran's acceptance of curbs on its nuclear programme and possible purchase of missiles that could fend off punitive strikes by arch-foe Israel.

Zarif arrived in Moscow Thursday on the same jet as Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, the Iranian IRNA news agency reported, a day after closed-door meetings with President Bashar al-Assad.

The whirlwind diplomacy reflects a bid by Mr Putin to seize the initiative on Syria later this month when world powers try to engage the regime and the rebels in their first direct discussions on ending.

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