Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says his country is still prepared to act as a platform for talks between Syria’s government and the opposition.
Lavrov’s comments came on February 20 after a meeting of the first session of the Russia-Arab Forum in Moscow.
He said Russia and Arabic countries are working to bring the two Syrian sides to the negotiating table and emphasized it is important the Syrian factions "do not lay down conditions" prior to talks.
The Russian foreign minister said if the current situation in Syria continued, it would lead to the destruction of the country.
"It is time to end this two-year conflict. Neither party can afford a military solution because this is a path to nowhere, a path toward mutual extermination among the people," Lavrov said.
But Lavrov sounded an optimistic note, saying there appeared to be movement from supporters of Syria’s opposition to prod the rebel leadership to the negotiating table.
"Until recently, there were those who discouraged the opposition from engaging in such a dialogue [with the government]. Now, as I understand, the situation is changing, and it is very important that the readiness of Syrian opposition leaders for dialogue be confirmed by the government, that it is also ready for dialogue," Lavrov said.
Lavrov also pointed to the "need for a leading role" for the Arab League in resolving the Syrian crisis.
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby was in Moscow for the forum and said Russia’s influence with the Syrian government was key to mediating a solution to the two-year-old conflict.
The conflict in Syria shows no sign of abating.
Syrian government forces earlier this week launched a Scud missile at an area in Aleppo occupied by opposition forces. The explosion caused several buildings to collapse and killed some 30 people.
The UN estimates some 70,000 people have been killed since violence started in March 2011 and that there about 4 million people inside the country who are in desperate need of aid.
With reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax