Lavrov on a three-day visit to West Asia

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Moscow, Mar 19 (UNI) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today embarked on a three-day visit to West Asia during which he will mediate on resolving the continuing regional violence.

In the first leg of his visit to Syria, Mr Lavrov would meet President Bashar al-Assad and Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moallem to discuss measures to improve the situation in Lebanon, caught in a crisis over parliament's failure to elect a president since last November, with disputes continuing between the ruling majority and the Hezbollah-led opposition.

''The situation needs to be influenced positively. All members of the international community that can influence groups in Lebanon should encourage them to reach accords, rather than try to tackle own problems at Lebanon's expense,'' Mr Lavrov told the cable TV channel Russia Today ahead of his visit.

Mr Lavrov is scheduled to arrive in Israel and the West Bank tomorrow and on Friday, where he is expected to discuss the ongoing rocket attacks against the Jewish state by Palestinian militants, and Israeli raids against Palestinians.

''Russia backs the international community's efforts aimed at ending the spiral of violence as soon as possible,'' Mr Lavrov said.

He also said Russia would continue contacts with the radical Palestinian group Hamas aimed at 'restoring Palestinian unity' and encouraging the group to pursue peace.

Peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, which were restarted after the US-sponsored summit last year, have stalled due to violence in recent weeks, in which more than 120 people have been killed.


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