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Russia's Putin holds talks with Syrian foreign minister

Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem (3rd L) speaks to Russia's President Vladimir Putin (2nd R) and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (3rd R) during a meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi, November 26, 2014. REUTERS/Mihail Metzel/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin met Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi for talks on Wednesday, the Kremlin said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin and Moualem were discussing “bilateral relations”, declining further comment.

Moualem’s two-day visit to Russia, a key ally of President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian conflict, appears to be the latest move in a renewed diplomatic effort by Moscow to restart peace talks aimed at seeking a solution to the Syria crisis.

But Western diplomats and analysts say the push is not likely to bear fruit because of splits over the fate of Assad.

Moualem was also due to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Reporting by Denis Dyomkin, Writing by Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Elizabeth Piper

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