(Corrects title of William Burns to U.S. Deputy Secretary of
State from Undersecretary of State in 5th paragraph)
MOSCOW Jan 9 Russian and U.S. diplomats plan to
hold a meeting with the international mediator for Syria,
Lakhdar Brahimi, on Friday in Geneva, Interfax news agency cited
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying on
Russian and U.S. diplomats held two trilateral meetings last
month with Brahimi, who is trying to find a diplomatic solution
to end the nearly 22-month-old conflict between Syrian President
Bashar al-Assad's government and its opponents.
Russia and the United States both support Brahimi's efforts
to forge a peace deal based on an agreement reached by world
powers in Geneva in June, which called for the creation of a
transitional governing body, but they are at odds over Assad.
Russia says Assad's exit from power must not be a
precondition for a political solution in Syria, where more than
60,000 have been killed since the conflict began with a
government crackdown on protests in March 2011.
"A trilateral meeting with participation of Mikhail
Bogdanov, (U.S. Deputy Secretary of State) William Burns and
Lakhdar Brahimi is planned for Jan. 11 in Geneva," Interfax
quoted Bogdanov as saying.
Bogdanov, the Kremlin special envoy for Middle East affairs,
met Burns and Brahimi in Geneva on Dec. 9, three days after
Brahimi met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Dublin.
(Writing by Steve Gutterman, editing by Gabriela Baczynska and