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EU invites Russia's Lavrov for Syria talks

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(BRUSSELS) - European Union foreign ministers have invited Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov for "substantial" talks next month on the situation in Syria, EU diplomats said Tuesday.

Lavrov is to dine with the bloc's 27 foreign ministers on October 14, the eve of ministerial talks in Luxembourg expected to focus largely on Syria.

"The idea is to have a general political dialogue," one source said.

"We will invite Mr Lavrov for a substantial discussion," said another. "There is a healthy dialogue these days with Russia."

At their October 15 meeting, the EU ministers are expected to tighten sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad.

Moscow has repeatedly refused to back international calls for Assad to step down and together with China jointly vetoed three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions against the Syrian leader.

Ahead of the Luxembourg talks, the EU ministers will meet on the sidelines of the UN general assembly.

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