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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ivanov Flies Into Cyprus After Whirlwind Tour of Mideast

LARNACA, Cyprus — Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov arrived in Cyprus on Wednesday after a whirlwind tour of the region to try to defuse a growing crisis in the Middle East.

Ivanov, who had originally intended to reach the east Mediterranean island on Monday, was whisked away from Larnaca airport on his arrival from Syria.

He headed straight for the capital, Nicosia, where he was due to meet Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Foreign Minister Ioannis Cassoulides.

Ninety-two people, all but five of them Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, have been killed in a two week outburst of violence that has raised tensions sharply across the region.

Earlier Itar-Tass quoted Ivanov as saying there was an increasing chance Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat would meet.

"It is becoming clear there is a possibility of holding multilateral meetings with the participation of Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat," he said. "The participants and the venue are being agreed on."

Ivanov held surprise talks Wednesday with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi on how to ease Middle East tensions.

Syrian presidential spokesman Joubran Kourieh said Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara was present at the meeting between Bashar and Ivanov, their second in 48 hours. He gave no details of the discussions.

Ivanov later met Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi at the Iranian Embassy, an Iranian official said.

Cyprus has in the past offered to host peace talks between the two sides. This position was reiterated by the government Wednesday.