* Assad would not quit even if pressed - Lavrov
* Syrian chemical weapons "under control"
* International envoy Brahimi to Moscow by year-end
MOSCOW, Dec 22 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov said that neither side would win the civil war in Syria,
and that China and Russia would be unable to persuade President
Bashar al-Assad to quit if they tried.
Russia has been rowing back after the Kremlin's Middle East
envoy was quoted as saying earlier this month that the rebels
could defeat Assad's government and that Russia was preparing
for a possible evacuation of its nationals, the strongest signs
yet that Russia is positioning itself for a post-Assad Syria.
"Listen, no one is going to win this war," Lavrov told
reporters aboard a government plane en route to Moscow from the
Russia-EU summit in Brussels.
"Assad is not going anywhere, no matter what anyone says, be
it China or Russia."
Lavrov repeated that Russia had rejected requests from
countries in the region to pressure Assad to go or offer him
safe haven, and that his exit might lead to an upsurge in
"Some regional powers suggested that we tell Assad we were
ready to accommodate him," he said. "And we replied: "Why do we
have to do it? If you have these plans, go to him yourselves
He said the international envoy seeking peace through
diplomacy, Lakhdar Brahimi, would visit Russia before the end of
In comments cleared for release on Saturday, Lavrov also
said Syria's chemical weapons had been concentrated in one or
two areas and were "under control" for the time being.
Lavrov said the biggest threat from Syria's chemical weapons
was that they could fall into the hands of militants.
"Currently the (Syrian) government is doing all it can to
secure (chemical weapons), according to intelligence data we
have and the West has," he said.
"The Syrian authorities have concentrated those arms
deposits, previously scattered across the country, in one or two
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said this month that
Washington had intelligence raising serious concerns that
Assad's government was considering using chemical weapons
against Syrian rebels.
The 20-month conflict has killed over 40,000 people.