* Brahimi in Moscow Saturday to discuss peace proposals
* World powers divided over Assad's role in transition
* Moscow says Assad's exit cannot be precondition for talks
MOSCOW, Dec 28 Russia expects to meet senior
U.S. officials on Syria next month to discuss with international
envoy Lakhdar Brahimi his proposals to end the 21-month-old
conflict there, the Kremlin's envoy to the region said on
Brahimi will fly to Moscow on Saturday for talks on the
results of his negotiations with Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad and his opponents during a five-day trip to Damascus in
which he called for political change to end the bloodshed.
"We will listen to what Lakhdar Brahimi has to say about the
situation in Syria and after that, probably, there will be a
decision to hold a new meeting of the 'three Bs'," Russian
Deputy Foreign Minister Mikahil Bogdanov said - making a word
play on the first letter of the diplomats' last names.
Bogdanov, U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns and
Brahimi, the joint special representative of the United Nations
and the Arab League, agreed that a political solution to the
crisis was necessary and possible in talks earlier this month.
Bogdanov said another meeting of the three "will take place
already in January after the holidays."
Brahimi, who has called for a transitional government to
rule until elections, is trying to broker a peaceful transfer of
power in Syria, where more than 44,000 people have been killed
in a revolt against four decades of Assad family rule.
What role Assad and members of his government might play in
a transitional body - a plan outlined in an international
agreement in Geneva six months ago - has divided world powers.
Past peace efforts have floundered as what began as peaceful
protests in March 2011 has turned to civil war and an
increasingly sectarian struggle between mostly Sunni Muslim
rebels and Assad's security forces, drawn primarily from his
Shi'ite-rooted Alawite minority.
World powers believe Russia, which has given Assad military
and diplomatic aid to help him weather the uprising, has the ear
of Syria's government and must be a central player in any peace
Moscow has tried to distance itself from Assad in recent
months and has said it is not propping him up, but it maintains
Assad's exit from power cannot be a precondition to talks.
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned
that time was running out to find a peaceful solution to the
conflict and halt a descent into "bloody chaos," during a
meeting with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Makdad in