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Originally published Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 4:26 AM

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Russia denies it backs Syria transition

Russia is denying comments by a U.S. official that it has endorsed a Syrian transition plan that includes a call for President Bashar Assad to give up power in favor of a national unity government.

Associated Press

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MOSCOW —

Russia is denying comments by a U.S. official that it has endorsed a Syrian transition plan that includes a call for President Bashar Assad to give up power in favor of a national unity government.

A senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss diplomatic negotiations, says international envoy Kofi Annan has assured the United States that world powers gathering in Geneva for talks have endorsed the plan and that Russia is among its backers.

But, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denied that Thursday. He says, ""We are not supporting and will not support any external meddling."

Russia - one of the five permanent Security Council members along with Britain, China, France and the U.S. - has previously warned it would firmly oppose any document urging Assad to step down.

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Associated Press writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report from Helsinki.

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