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Russian diplomats sweep through Lebanon, Iraq, Syria

Russia's Syria envoy Alexander Lavrentiev and others recently paid important visits to the Middle East to present Russia’s refugee plan and discuss the latest regional developments.
BEIRUT, LEBANON - JUNE 19 :  (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY  MANDATORY CREDIT - "LEBANESE PRIME MINISTRY OFFICE / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----)  Russian Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev (L) meets Lebanese President Michel Aoun (R) in Beirut, Lebanon on June 19, 2019. (Photo by LEBANESE PRIME MINISTRY OFFICE / HANDOUT/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Last week, Alexander Lavrentiev, Russia’s special envoy to Syria, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin and Defense Ministry officials visited Baghdad, Beirut and Damascus. Formally, the trip can be considered the start of the preparatory stage for a new round of the Astana talks on Syria in the renamed Kazakh capital city of Nursultan. The talks are scheduled for late July and the Russian envoys invited Iraq and Lebanon to participate as observer states.

Moreover, the visit to the three Arab capitals set the stage for a summit taking place this week, June 24-25, in Jerusalem that brings together the security chiefs of Russia, the United States and Israel. The diplomats, at their meetings last week, made it clear to the other Astana parties, especially Damascus, that Moscow wouldn't be concluding any separate deals in Jerusalem with the United States or Israel concerning Iran and its presence in Syria.

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