International envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has called for a transitional government to be formed in Syria with "full executive powers" to run the country until elections can be held.
Brahimi issued the call in Damascus on December 27, at the end of a five-day visit to Syria that included talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Brahimi did not specify what measures were needed to replace Assad's regime with a transitional government. But he said it was clear that changes necessary to satisfy the demands of ordinary Syrians must not be "cosmetic or superficial." He said the Syrian people "need, want, and aspire to genuine change and everyone knows what this means."
"The solution [can be reached] by bringing Syrians' points of view closer. And if the Syrians are unable to do it by themselves, the international community, their neighbors, and all people must help them for the good, not the evil," Brahimi said. "But we are sure that the Geneva conference, which was held in June , has enough elements to put forward a plan that could end this crisis within the next few months."
Earlier on December 27, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said any demand for overthrowing Assad's government would be contrary to international agreements reached at the Geneva conference -- part of a proposed peace plan that was never implemented because neither Assad's regime nor Syria's opposition was willing to carry it out.
Lukashevich's remarks followed talks in Moscow between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Makdad.
"Of course, [this meeting] is part of our effort to develop and intensify the dialogue with the [Syrian] government and also with all of the opposition groups," Lukashevich said. "Naturally, we speak with the government very often, especially now, at a time when decisive and energetic measures are needed to stop the bloodshed."
Lukashevich also said that calls for a "comprehensive national dialogue" between Assad's government and the Syrian opposition would be on the agenda of Lavrov's talks with Brahimi when the two met in Moscow on December 29.
"We plan to discuss a range of issues regarding a political and diplomatic settlement in Syria, including the latest efforts by Mr. Brahimi aimed at ending the violence and the launch of a comprehensive national dialogue between the authorities and the opposition in that country," Lukashevich said.
Lukashevich denied reports of a joint U.S.-Russian plan for the resolution of Syria's civil war.
"There has been no such plan, therefore it cannot be discussed," Lukashevich said. "In our talks with Mr. Brahimi and with our U.S. colleagues, we are trying to find a way out of this situation on the basis of our common plan of action that was agreed in Geneva on June 30."
Brahimi said in Damascus that he expected to have a third joint meeting soon with U.S. and Russian officials. He had two such meetings with Russian and U.S. officials earlier in December.
More than 44,000 Syrians are thought to have died so far in an ongoing revolt against four decades of Assad family rule that began with Arab Spring-style protest and insurrection in March 2011.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and ITAR-TASS