Hopes for US, Russia Agreement on Syria

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Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi says he hopes the United States and Russia can reconcile their views over Syria in order to facilitate a settlement of the crisis in the war-ravaged country.

"Talks between the United States and Russia along with the international envoy (Lakhdar Brahimi) continued in Geneva," Arabi told a meeting of the Arab ministerial committee on Syria held in Doha.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday met both her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and Brahimi in Dublin.

Clinton said there had been no "great breakthrough" during those talks, but that there would be further meetings between officials.

Arabi said the aim of the US-Russian talks was to "prepare a resolution for the (UN) Security Council" on the Syria crisis.

"This resolution will send a clear message to the (Damascus) regime that it is no longer protected."

The United Nations said that Brahimi met Russia's deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov and US deputy secretary of state William Burns in Geneva on Sunday to discuss Syria.

"The meeting was constructive and held in a spirit of cooperation," a UN statement said.

"It explored avenues to move forward a peaceful process and mobilise greater international action in favour of a political solution to the Syrian crisis."

Brahimi, Burns and Bogdanov "reaffirmed their common assessment that the situation in Syria was bad and getting worse.

"They stressed that a political process to end the crisis in Syria was necessary and still possible."

Russia, along with China, is one of the last supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has routinely blocked draft Security Council resolutions condemning his rule.

In a statement after the Doha meeting, the Arab ministerial committee reiterated a call for Assad to "step down to facilitate the start of a transition of power and end the bloodshed and destruction".

The ministers also appealed for humanitarian aid for internally displaced Syrians and refugees, and asked the League secretary general to "prepare a conference on the reconstruction of Syria", post-Assad.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, who heads the committee, told a news conference the downfall of Assad's regime was "imminent".

Earlier, he described as "unacceptable" Security Council inaction over Syria, where more than 42,000 people have been killed in violence since March 2011, a rights watchdog says.

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