Assad and Lavrov 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Syria will cooperate with any effort to resolve its crisis that promotes
stability in the country, the state news agency SANA quoted President
Bashar Assad as saying on Tuesday.
"Syria from the beginning has
welcomed any efforts that back the Syrian solution to the crisis," SANA
quoted Assad as saying while meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov, adding that he reiterated "Syria's readiness to cooperate with
any effort that supports stability."
Assad assured Lavrov that he
is "completely committed" to seeking an end to violence by both sides,
Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying on Tuesday.
also said that Assad, 11 months into a revolt against his rule, stated
he was ready to seek dialogue with all political groups.
to the Russian foreign minister, Assad added that he is ready to accept
an expanded Arab League mission in his violence-torn country and
schedule a constitutional referendum.
"The president of Syria
assured us he was completely committed to the task of stopping violence
regardless of where it may come from," Interfax quoted Lavrov as saying
after what he called "very useful meetings with the leadership" of
Opposition activists have dismissed similar pledges made
by Assad in the past because he continued trying to eliminate unrest
with tanks and troops and branded his adversaries "terrorists" and
Russia, one of Syria's last remaining allies, and China on Saturday vetoed
an Western- and Arab-drafted resolution in the UN Security Council that supported an Arab League call for Assad to step down.
said the draft would have put too little pressure on armed opponents of
the government, which Moscow says must share responsibility for nearly a
year of bloodshed that has killed thousands of people.
referendum, Lavrov said: "President Assad informed (me) that he will
meet in the coming days with the commission that prepared a draft of the
new constitution," state-run Russian news agency Itar-Tass reported.
"The work is finished, and now a date will be announced for a referendum on this important document for Syria."
said that "Syria is informing the Arab League it is interested in the
League's mission continuing its work and being increased in terms of
quantity," Interfax reported.
"Russia is convinced of the need to preserve and expand (the mission), which is a serious stabilizing factor in Syria," he said.
are now only about 110 monitors in the sprawling country of 23 million,
following the departure last month of Gulf Arabs from the mission in
despair at continued bloodletting despite their presence.
also affirmed Russia's "readiness to help foster the swiftest exit from
the crisis on the basis of positions set out in the Arab League
initiative", Interfax reported.
Russia has supported an Arab
League peace proposal for Syria floated last November, but there was no
indication from Lavrov's quoted remarks that Russia had come around to
specifically backing the League's call on Assad to leave office.