Russia invites Syria's gov't, opposition for talks

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MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's Foreign Ministry says it has invited Syrian authorities and opposition for talks in Moscow.

The ministry said in a statement Monday that Syrian authorities have already agreed to come. The ministry is hoping that opposition leaders will send their reply in the coming days. The opposition has balked at holding talks with the regime, saying the violence must end first.

The U.N. estimates about 5,400 people have been killed in 10 months of violence.

The ministry said the Syria talks need to be conducted "as soon as possible" to stop violence in the country.

Russia, Syria's longtime ally has been backing the regime of President Bashar Assad although Moscow has also talked to Syrian opposition leaders in the past months.