Russia has defended Syria's government against the threat of foreign interference, a day after U.S. President Barack Obama warned that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime would be a "red line."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the only thing foreign players should do in Syria is create conditions for dialogue between President Bashar al-Assad's regime and opposition fighters.
He was speaking after talks in Moscow with Syria's Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil.
Jamil said that a foreign intervention would see the crisis expand beyond Syria's borders.
Obama warned the Syrian regime on August 20 of "enormous consequences" -- suggesting possible unilateral military action -- if Damascus uses or moves its chemical weapons.
Lavrov says an understanding was reached with Syrian officials on August 21 that "national reconciliation" should be a top priority to stop bloodshed and "provide conditions for inter-Syrian negotiations."
The Syrian deputy prime minister appeared to suggest that Assad could leave power as part of a negotiated settlement.
But Jamil said Assad's resignation could not be a precondition for opening a peace dialogue.
"The resignation [of President Bashar al-Assad] as a condition to be fulfilled before the start of a dialogue means it will be impossible to start the dialogue. Any issue can be discussed during the dialogue," Jamil said.
"We are ready to discuss even that issue [Assad's resignation]. But resignation before finding mechanisms that are acceptable to the Syrian people -- is that real democracy?"
Meanwhile, the Japanese government on August 21 confirmed that a Japanese journalist has been killed in Syria.
Japanese media reports named the woman journalist as Mika Yamamoto, a veteran reporter.
Syrian activists said she died of wounds sustained while she was covering fighting in Aleppo.
Based on reporting by AFP, ITAR-TASS, and Interfax