Russia says no final agreement reached on Annan's Syria plan

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said no final agreement has been reached to support the latest plan by United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan to stop the bloodshed in Syria.

"A preconcerted project doesn't exist," Lavrov said Thursday at a joint press briefing with Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem in Moscow. "The work on the document continues."

The foreign ministers of the five permanent UN Security Council members -- China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US -- as well as Turkey, Qatar and Iraq will meet June 30 in Geneva to discuss a solution to the conflict. The fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must be decided by the Syrian people, Lavrov said. Foreign governments should pressure Syrians to halt the violence and get the opposition to support Annan's plan, he said.

Persuading Assad to step aside and forming a transitional government to pave the way for elections will be at the core of a June 30 conference of top diplomats organized by Annan, three UN diplomats said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private.

"Foreign powers must not dictate their solutions to the Syrians," Lavrov said, adding that international military intervention would have "catastrophic consequences."

Annan this week gave the parties to the talks a few days to respond to a set of recommendations entitled "On Guidelines and Principles of a Syrian-led Transition." Experts from a number of countries are meeting in Geneva tomorrow to discuss Syrian issues before diplomatic talks begin, Lavrov said.

Iran's role

Iran should take part in the talks and the US, which worked with Iran during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, shows "double standards" by opposing the inclusion of the Persian Gulf country in the meeting, Lavrov said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Western countries not to mix Iran's disputed nuclear program with the country's participation in the conference on Syria.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has "no appetite" for repeating its "risky venture" in Libya, Lavrov said. The consequences of a foreign intervention to Syria would be "far more serious" than in Libya and will affect many countries, he added.

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