* Russian and U.S. foreign ministers discuss peace moves
* International mediator to look for peace on Geneva model
* Clinton says working with Russia on political transition
* Anti-Assad rebels seeking international support
By David Brunnstrom and Conor Humphries
DUBLIN, Dec 6 Russia and the United States will
seek a "creative" solution to drag Syria back from the brink,
the international mediator on Syria said on Thursday after
meeting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The comments by Lakhdar Brahimi, who called the unscheduled
meeting on the sidelines of a Dublin conference, suggested a new
coordination among the major powers could be emerging on Syria
after months of sometimes bitter disagreement.
But statements from officials remained cautious.
A senior U.S. State Department official called the meeting
"a constructive discussion focused on how to support a political
transition in practical terms".
The next step would be a meeting "in the next few days"
between Brahimi and senior officials from the United States and
Russia "to discuss the specifics of taking this work forward",
the official said.
Brahimi said he would seek peace based on the Geneva
Declaration which calls for a transitional administration.
"We haven't taken any sensational decisions," he told
reporters after the meeting at a gathering of the Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). He called Syria's
situation "very, very, very bad".
"We have agreed that we must continue to work together to
see how we can find creative ways of bringing this problem under
control and hopefully starting to solve it.
"We have also talked a little bit about how we can work out
hopefully a process that will get Syria back from the brink. To
put together a peace process that will be based on Geneva."
Clinton held a bilateral meeting with Lavrov and Brahimi met
separately with Lavrov before the three sat down together.
Clinton then had a short follow-on meeting with Brahimi.
She told a news conference before the talks that the United
States had been trying hard to work with Russia to stop the
bloodshed in Syria and start a political transition.
"Events on the ground in Syria are accelerating, and we see
that in many different ways," she said. "The pressure against
the regime in and around Damascus seems to be increasing."
In Moscow, a senior Russian lawmaker and ally of Vladimir
Putin described Syria's government on Thursday as being
incapable of doing its job properly, in a sign Russia is trying
to distance itself from President Bashar al-Assad.
That followed comments by Putin in Turkey on Monday that
"new, fresh ideas" about how to end the crisis had emerged. The
Kremlin said they would be discussed further by Russian and
Assad's deputy foreign minister said meanwhile Western
powers were whipping up fears of a fateful move to the use of
chemical weapons in Syria's civil war as a "pretext for
RUSSIAN AND CHINESE OPPOSITION
The Dublin talks came ahead of a meeting of the
Western-backed "Friends of Syria" group in Marrakech next
Wednesday which is expected to boost support for anti-Assad
forces, and could see the United States recognising a new rebel
council as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
The rebels have made advances across Syria in recent weeks
and fighting raged on Wednesday in an arc of suburbs on the
eastern outskirts of Damascus.
Assad's family has ruled for 42 years and the president has
vowed to fight to the death in a conflict that has killed an
estimated 38,000 people and risks sucking in other countries.
Opposition sources said on Wednesday rebels, riven by deep
divisions and rivalries, were trying to restructure their
leadership across Syria in an effort to secure foreign funding
for their armed revolt.
Brahimi has called for world powers to issue a U.N. Security
Council resolution based on a June deal they reached in Geneva
to set up a transitional government.
The Geneva Declaration, agreed when Kofi Annan was
international mediator, called for a transitional administration
but did not specify what role, if any, Assad would have.
The United States and its allies want Assad to step down.
Russia has repeatedly said his fate cannot be decided outside
Syria, but also appears to be trying to position itself for his
Western countries proposed a new resolution at the U.N.
Security Council in July aimed at putting direct pressure on
Assad by threatening more sanctions unless his troops stopped
using heavy weapons and withdrew troops from towns and cities.
Russia and China vetoed the resolution, saying it
represented interference in Syria's internal affairs.
Annan stepped down in August, saying divisions in the
Security Council made his plan unworkable.
The United States and its allies said the plan failed
because of Assad's refusal to abide by its provisions and Russia
and China's refusal to hold Assad accountable.
A group of bipartisan senators on Thursday said they stand
ready to support President Barack Obama should he decide to use
military force against Syria if it appears that Assad is
preparing to use chemical weapons.
They also called on Russia, an ally of Assad, to become more
active in trying to resolve the crisis.
Republican Senator John McCain, who has long advocated that
the United States do more to help the Syrian rebels, told
reporters he and three other senators - independent Joseph
Lieberman, Democrat Chris Coons and Republican Lindsey Graham -
were "deeply disturbed" by reports that Assad may have
weaponised some of his stores of chemical and biological agents.
"If true, these reports may mean that the United States and
our allies are facing the prospect of an imminent use of weapons
of mass destruction in Syria, and this may be the last warning
we get," McCain told reporters in Washington.
He criticized the Obama administration's policy of
non-intervention since the rebellion began nearly two years ago.
"Time for talking about what to do may now be coming to a
close and we may instead be left with an awful and very
difficult decision," he said, describing the choice as whether
to stay on the sidelines or take military action of some kind.
"We have now reached a point where there are weapons of mass
destruction that may be used and also there is a significant
question about the security of these weapons should Bashar Assad
McCain said it was now up to the Russians "to do everything
possible" to make sure Assad did not use chemical weapons.