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Tehran and Moscow at loggerheads over Syria peace talks: Russia

Iran is opposing US participation in the talks, planned to start on Monday - but Russia says it 'welcomes' their presence
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani meets with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin (Reuters)

Russia and Iran are divided over US participation in planned Syria peace talks, a Moscow official said on Saturday, hinting at a rare public spat between the allies.

A spokesperson for the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov, told the BBC on Saturday that Russia welcomes potential US participation in the Astana talks, but that Iran is not in agreement.

"We will welcome that," Peskov said in reference to a question on Washington's participation in the peace talks, which were agreed as part of a ceasefire deal last month.

However, he said, "the situation is very complicated".

"The Iranians are not welcoming [US participation]. So it is a very complicated issue for a very careful play."

The talks are scheduled to begin in Astana on Monday, but Peskov said on Saturday that a deal is unlikely to be reached.

"Any deals are unlikely to be reached there, as too many parties are involved in the process," Peskov said.

The US, which backs rebels opposed to president Bashar al-Assad, did not receive its official invitation to join the Astana talks until earlier this week.

The talks are being brokered by Russia and Turkey, which have previously been in direct opposition on Syria, with Turkey - like the US - backing opposition rebels.

However, Turkey on Friday confirmed a long-suspected U-turn in its policy on Syria, saying that it is "no longer realistic" to demand a peace settlement that would remove Assad from power.