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U.N. envoy to Syria to visit Russia this weekend

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 26, 2012 at 9:49 a.m.

— The international envoy on Syria will visit Moscow this weekend for talks on the crisis, a senior Russian diplomat said Wednesday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said that U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi will arrive in Moscow on one-day visit Saturday, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.

Brahimi met Monday in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar Assad, but didn’t signal any progress toward a negotiated solution for the civil war. Brahimi said after the talks that he and Assad exchanged views on the crisis and discussed possible steps forward, which he did not disclose.

Preceding Brahimi’s trip, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad and Assistant Foreign Minister Ahmad Arnous flew early Wednesday to Moscow, according to airport officials in Beirut. The Russian Foreign Ministry made no immediate comment about their mission.

Meanwhile, Syria’s interior minister, wounded in a Damascus bombing, headed home on a private jet Wednesday after treatment in Beirut, airport officials said, despite calls from some Lebanese to put him on trial for Syrian actions in their country.

Mohammed al-Shaar’s departure coincided with the defection of the commander of Syria’s military police.

Officials at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport said al-Shaar left Beirut and was flying to Damascus. They spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. Al-Shaar was wounded Dec. 12 when a suicide bomber exploded his vehicle outside the Interior Ministry, killing five and wounding many, including the minister.

The Syrian government denied at first that al-Shaar was wounded. Then it emerged that he was brought to a Beirut hospital last week for treatment. The same minister was wounded when a bomb went off on July 18 during a high-level crisis meeting in Damascus, killing four top officials.

It was not clear whether al-Shaar’s treatment was completed or if he left because of political pressure. Lebanese are deeply divided over the Syria crisis.

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