According to the New York Times, Mr. Assad did not respond to Mr. Brahimi's proposals and a Syrian opposition leader declined an invitation to Moscow to meet with Russian officials. Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, said Assad could not be convinced to leave the country, which the opposition has insisted is a precondition for talks.
Speaking about the yawning gap that has to be bridged for the two sides to sit down for talks, CNN reports that Brahimi said, "The Syrians disagree violently. On one side, the government says we are doing our duty to protect our people from ... terrorists. On the other side, they say the government is illegitimate," Brahimi said. "They are not talking about the same problem. They are talking about two different problems."
Brahimi's comments came the day after what CNN said might be the bloodiest day in the uprising – on Dec. 29, at least 399 people were killed.
According to Reuters, Mr. Lavrov pinned the blame for continuing violence on the opposition, even though the US, European countries, and most Arab states back the opposition's demand that Assad's removal from power come first.