MOSCOW Dec 29 Russia said on Saturday that a
negotiated solution to the conflict in Syria is still possible
but the international mediator struggling to end 21 months of
bloodshed warned of "hell" unless a deal is struck.
Sergei Lavrov and Lakhdar Brahimi announced no major new
initiatives after talks in Moscow and their remarks underscored
the obstacles the U.N.-Arab League envoy faces in bringing about
"If the only alternative is hell or a political process,
then all of us have to work continuously toward the political
process," said Brahimi, adding it was still possible to reach "a
solution that would work" but that the barriers were daunting.
"The chance for a political settlement remains and it is our
obligation to make maximal use of that chance," Lavrov told
reporters in a joint appearance after his talks with Brahimi,
who met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad earlier in the week.
Lavrov, whose country has blocked Western and Arab efforts
in the U.N. Security Council to put pressure on Assad, repeated
that Assad's exit must not be a precondition for a political
process, saying such demands were "wrong" and counterproductive.
He said the refusal of the Syrian opposition National
Coalition to talk to the Syrian leadership was a "dead-end
position", and criticised the coalition leader for rebuffing an
invitation for talks with Russia.