Russia tells Syria its peace efforts 'insufficient'
MOSCOW - Agence France- Presse
Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja (R) and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov give a press conference on August 20, 2012 in Helsink. Lavrov is on a one-day visit to Finland. AFP PHOTO / LEHTIKUVA / MARKKU ULANDER
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a senior visiting Syrian minister on Tuesday that the regime's current efforts to end 17 months of violence were insufficient and required further effort.
"From what we see in Syria, it seems that this is not enough," the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Lavrov as telling Syria's Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil at the start of their talks.
Lavrov had opened the meeting by telling the Syrian he was "very, very interested to hear your assessments of the situation, and about your plan of further action." Jamil is Syria's top economic negotiator and was returning to Russia after striking a framework agreement to secure future gasoline shipments from Russia in early August.
Russia has refused to join other powers in calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's resignation but is stepping up its calls on his government to undertake more serious efforts at peace talks.
Lavrov stressed that Russia still firmly believed that only the Syrians themselves could end the fighting and urged Assad's team to energetically pursue its current course.
"We remain convinced that there is no way other than a continuation of this line of action," said Lavrov.