Bloomberg Reports: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Assad had told a top United Nations envoy that he won’t quit before his term ends in 2014. “It’s impossible to change his position,” Lavrov said at a joint press conference after talks in Moscow yesterday with the UN and Arab League special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, who met Assad in Damascus on Dec. 24.
Russia, Syria’s main international backer, on Dec. 28 called on Assad to make efforts toward a political settlement by holding talks with the opposition on all options. The U.S. and Russia, which have clashed over efforts by President Barack Obama’s administration to oust Assad, are working together in a bid to negotiate a peaceful outcome to the uprising that started in March 2011.
“When the opposition says that only Assad’s departure would allow for the start of talks on the fate of the country –we think that’s incorrect,” Lavrov said. Maintaining that position is fueling the Syrian death toll, he said.