MOSCOW - Russia is expected to urge Saudi Arabia to allow its regional rival Iran to join moves to end the conflict in Syria in a rare high-level meeting on Wednesday between the world's top two oil producers, diplomatic sources said.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is hoping to raise Moscow's profile in a region where its influence is at risk after blocking three UN resolutions meant to put pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad to end the bloodshed.
The Syrian uprising, which has cost 38,000 lives in 20 months, has further strained traditionally uneasy ties between Russia and Saudi Arabia, a key ally of the United States.
The trip to Riyadh is Lavrov's second Middle East visit in less than two weeks. Last week in Cairo he embraced an Egyptian-backed drive to bring together four regional powers to seek a solution to the Syrian crisis.