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Brief Russia-West détente on Syria conflict comes to an end (+video)

Russia rejected an invitation to Paris to discuss next steps for Syria, saying that world leaders seemed more intent on helping the rebels than on brokering peace. 

By Correspondent / April 19, 2012

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is greeted on arrival to attend a meeting on Syria in Paris April 19.

Jacquelyn Martin/REUTERS

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Moscow

Russia today categorically refused to join about a dozen Western and Arab foreign ministers gathering in Paris to discuss ways to pressure Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to abide by the terms of the United Nations peace plan, alleging that the meeting's intent was "counterproductive."

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Fighting continues in Syria as UN chief calls for more UN observers.

Moscow's self-exclusion from the latest "Friends of Syria" conference – which will include top policymakers from the US, Germany, France, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and other countries – suggests that the recent reconciliation between Russia and the West over how to approach the Syrian crisis may be short-lived.

In fact, though both Russia and the West say they support the plan crafted by UN envoy to Syria Kofi Annan, each appears to have a dramatically different interpretation of what results should flow from its implementation.

Speaking to journalists in Paris, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe accused Moscow of seeking to prop up Mr. Assad as he continues to use brutal military and secret police methods to suppress his political opposition. Syria's year-old civil conflict has killed more than 9,000 people, according to UN estimates.

"I regret that Russia continues to lock itself into a vision that isolates it more and more, not just from the Arab world but also from the international community," Mr. Juppe said.

Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Lukashevich told reporters in Moscow that they'd turned down the invitation – which was only delivered on short notice – because the Paris gathering is just the latest in a series of "one-sided" sessions aimed at helping the rebels.

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