Russia, Syria's biggest international supporter, is leaning on President Bashar al-Assad to begin a dialogue with the Syrian opposition and take steps toward ending the conflict.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he had urged Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Makdad to emphasize his government's openness to dialogue with the opposition during talks in Moscow yesterday.
"We actively encouraged... the Syrian leadership to make as concrete as possible its declared readiness for dialogue with the opposition," Lavrov told reporters after talks with his Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Kamel Amr in Moscow.
He said the Syrian government should stress its readiness for talks on the widest possible range of matters, in line with an international agreement in Geneva last June calling for a transitional government.
"I think a realistic and detailed assessment of the situation inside Syria will prompt reasonable opposition members to seek ways to start a political dialogue," added Lavrov, who last week said that neither side would win by force.